Editor’s Note: This is the first of a multi-part series on Blue Bell’s Eddie DiDonato, 23, the former La Salle College High and Villanova University lacrosse standout who is recovering from a shooting incident in Philadelphia
By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/19/10
Eddie DiDonato doesn’t recall much about the days immediately following the January 17th shooting in Philadelphia where he suffered six gunshot wounds at close range.
“The first thing I remember was being in the hospital the day after the shooting and seeing the Forster brothers (best friend Rob and brother Jack) and giving them the thumbs up,” he said, in his first interview since the incident. “I remember seeing my cousins, the Durkins – Kevin and Tucker – and I remember being in restraints so I couldn’t move.
“I remember knowing that I was awake, and I felt pretty good. I could move my legs up and down and I knew I wasn’t completely paralyzed.”
During DiDonato’s six-week stay at Jefferson University Hospital, he was listed in critical condition for four weeks. DiDonato underwent 10 surgeries, to repair damage to his liver, lungs, stomach, spine and hand. His organs, according to the doctors, should make a full recovery. It is unknown whether he will regain full feeling and movement of his left foot, doctors have told him.
In the first days at Jefferson, DiDonato struggled to communicate with family and friends while on a respirator.
“I remember being so upset because I had a feeding tube and a breathing tube in and I couldn’t speak,” he said. “I had a chart with letters on it and I had to point to spell out what I wanted to say, and nobody still could understand me. It was so difficult to pick up what I was saying; I was thinking it, but it wasn’t coming out.
“It was so frustrating. Those were some of my toughest times right there.”
Despite his condition, DiDonato didn’t worry about healing from the bullet wounds, never doubted his recovery and wasn’t about to succumb to limitations. He said his spirits were always high due to constant support from family and friends.
“I never really got that down because I always had people there and I didn’t have time to ponder it,” he said. “I really didn’t think too much; I always assumed I’d be OK.
“I knew I was going to get better. I remember one of the doctors coming in, and I still had the ventilator in and the doctor was telling me my foot might not come back and that there was a possibility I might not walk.”
“My sister (Kristen) was there and I started saying to her, ‘I am gonna walk…I am gonna walk.’ I really had no doubt.”
Next: DiDonato’s continues his recovery
DiDonato’s condition stabilizes after being moved back into Intensive Care; is downgraded to critical
DiDonato’s former teammate: ‘It’s pretty incredible how lucky and strong he’s been the past couple of days’
Contributing editor: Kristen Imperiale