Though Nick Antlitz is far from campus and his home, UT student Steve Cohen wants his friend to know that he’s not alone.
Others feel the same way. Antltz was visited Tuesday by Patrick Rummerfield, the world’s first fully-recovered spinal cord injury quadriplegic and Jason Cook, a spinal cord recovery advocate, his family said.
Antlitz was able to converse with him but the immediate focus remains on his lung function.
The University of Tampa junior and member of the Theta Chi fraternity was playing basketball in Bethany Beach, Del., when he climbed to the top of the basketball hoop and began to dunk the ball. As he stood up, he lost his balance and fell to the ground, crushing one of the vertebrae.
The C6 vertebrae located in the neck, shattered and placed tremendous pressure on his spinal cord. Antlitz was immediately rushed into surgery for his neck and a donor bone was implanted. After the knee surgery, Antlitz developed pockets of air in his lungs causing pneumonia.
Cohen says Antlitz is improving. As of last week, Antlitz’s pneumonia subsided, however, he was still on a ventilator and heavily sedated because of the immense pain.
Although Antlitz’s condition is stabilizing, he is not well enough to be moved to a Boston hospital. Cohen says doctors are still certain Antlitz is paralyzed from the nipple-line down. He also says doctors are unsure if Antlitz will ever walk again.
Cohen and Antlitz’s friendship goes all the way back to second grade. Although the two did not go to the same primary schools together, they ended up at UT together.
“We didn’t plan on going to college together at first but when we both checked out UT, we thought, ‘This is it.'”
Staying in Tampa this summer, Cohen was visiting home when he heard of his friend’s accident.
“I was at the dentist office and it was early in the morning. I got a call from Nick’s little brother and I thought it was strange that he was calling me so early.”
When Cohen found out, he says he lost it.
“I’ve worked in EMS for a while and I’ve seen traumatic stuff. But when its someone you now, you block it