Editor’s Note: This is the third 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 Jan, 17 shooting incident in Philadelphia
By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/26/10
Eddie DiDonato admits he is a lucky man for surviving six bullet wounds at close range more than three months ago in Philadelphia.
“Every day I feel lucky to be here,” says DiDonato, who recently left Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia to enter a day program with Magee. “I have days where I say, ‘God, I just wish my leg would come back’ or ‘God, I wish I was fine and everything was back to normal.”
“But at the same time, I’m here. A couple of times I was almost gone. Just to be here every day and to be able to see my parents and the rest of my family, all my friends is definitely a blessing.”
DiDonato spent seven weeks at Magee after leaving Jefferson University Hospital where he spent four weeks in critical condition. He suffered wounds to multiple organs and still has limited feeling in his left leg.
“I went outside for the first time (since the incident) a (month) ago, on the sixth floor deck at Magee,” said DiDonato. “It was a beautiful thing to sit out there with my sister (Kristen) and her boyfriend. For weeks I had been sitting in a hospital bed, watching the world go by, through a window.
“I was watching snowstorms and watching it rain, it was great to finally be outside with the sun on my face.”
When he arrived at Magee, DiDonato was 30 pounds lighter and needed help to do just about everything. He could stand, but with crutches, and only for a few seconds.
After weeks of intense occupational and physical therapy, DiDonato is almost fully independent and is rapidly regaining his strength. He can get up and down steps with assistance and walk for extended minutes at a time with a cane.
“I remember when I came here, I had no muscle when I flexed my right arm,” said DiDonato, an avid weightlifter before the shooting. “That was a tough thing for me to see.”
DiDonato credits his doctors and therapists at Magee as well as support from his family and friends for his recovery. DiDonato’s parents and two sisters visited him every day during his stays in Jefferson and Magee.
Has this incident changed DiDonato?
“I saw some injuries (to other people) from simple risks that I had done plenty of times.” he said. “I had taken these types of risks all the time and not thought twice about them. It took something as safe as going out with my buddies for me to get injured. I realized how there is risk in everything we do, but that’s just part of life.
“Life can change very quickly and I am happy to be alive.”
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