By Kirsten Robbins
Fausto Esparza, who was seriously injured more than three weeks ago in a descending crash during the final stage of the Tour of the Gila, will be released from the hospital in a few days. The former Mexican national champion was air lifted to Thompson Hospital in El Paso, Texas where doctors diagnosed him as paralyzed from the waist down.
The 33 year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, had travelled north to Silver City, New Mexico where his team Tecos-Trek registered to compete in the seven-day stage race. He, along with twelve other riders, crashed on the last stage's high speed and technical descent.
Esparza's wife Paty and sister Monica Plascencia gathered at the Thompson hospital in El Paso shortly after doctors notified his family of the accident. Family members remained with him for three weeks before travelling home to Guadalajara.
According to Plascencia, Esparza is still in the hospital but in much better condition and was removed from the ICU into a regular hospital bed where he is expected to stay for a few days longer. "He is in much better condition," said Plascencia who recently flew back to her California home. "I spoke with Fausto this morning and he will be leaving for Mexico City soon where he will work on his recovery. He is in a wheel chair but he's working on his health and happiness right now."
Esparza will be taken to CONADE Hospital, a national physical and athletic rehabilitation centre located in Mexico City. "It's going to take a long time for him to be rehabilitated and the doctors did not say that it would be possible," said Plascencia. "He has no movement from the waist down. His spirit is very high and positive so believe me, that high spirit has him wanting to go back to his bike, and that is his goal. He is up and down since the first day. As he continues healing and putting strain on his arm muscles he gets more motivated each day."
According to Plascencia, the family's priority concerns are with the wellbeing of Esparza; however they will soon need to consider the financial strain from the accrued hospital expenses that will inevitably need to be paid. "Fausto's wife Paty and I are not concerned with finances right now," said Plascencia. "Day by day Fausto will have support from all of us at home. But it is something we will need to think about in the near future. As of today he is no longer on ICU and that is good news for us."
The Tour of the Gila organization set up a donation fund for Esparza immediately following the accident at the Wells Fargo Bank in Silver City, New Mexico. According Tour of the Gila race director, Jack Brennan, the Fausto Munoz Esparza Donation Fund has raised under ten thousand dollars to support Esparza in his recovery, an amount that covers approximately one tenth of the accumulated hospital bills, not including his need for long term rehabilitation and care expenses.
Brennan encourages people to continue to donate funds to the Wells Fargo Bank in Silver City, New Mexico. "He is determined to ride again," said Brennan. "He seems very focused and he told me that he has a goal and now wants to obtain."
Many have donated to Esparaza's recovery fund, including Team Toyota-United which contributed five thousand dollars. Furthermore, letters and cards have been streaming in to Esparza's hospital room. According to Brennan, The Silver City High School Spanish classes sent over sixty handwritten and painted get well cards.
"We want to make sure that people know that they can still donate the much needed funds to Fausto," said Brennan. "My feeling is that Fausto is a very strong guy, very determined and focused, probably coming from his bike racing background. His family seems very supportive, a really great family and I think they are going to be very helpful with his recovery.
Private donations can be submitted to the Wells Fargo Bank, Attn: Fausto Munoz Esparza Donation Fund, 1201 N. Pope St. Silver City, New Mexico, 88061, USA.
Letters of support and get well cards may also be sent to the Thompson Hospital, 4815 Alameda Ave, Patient: Fausto Esparza, 4815 Alameda Ave, El Paso, Texas, 79905, USA.