WESTERN Suburbs captain Jermaine Ale came within hours of losing his right arm after an operation to repair a ruptured biceps.
The 27-year-old had surgery at John Hunter Hospital on April 18 to repair the injury he sustained during a trial against Wyong last month.
Three hours after coming out of surgery at 6pm, Ale was rushed back to the operating theatre to have incisions made in his forearm and biceps to relieve the compartment syndrome that had developed.
Compartment syndrome occurs when pressure within the muscles builds to dangerous levels.
Blood flow can decrease, preventing oxygen from reaching nerve and muscle cells.
‘‘There was a massive bleed in there,’’ Ale said. ‘‘I came out at 6pm on Wednesday and it just didn’t feel right, so they kept an eye on me and spotted it straight away.
‘‘It was unbelievably swollen and I was just in agony, and they took me back in after three hours for surgery and once they opened it up the relief was amazing.
‘‘They cut me from mid-forearm to right up my biceps and up the back as well. So I have a nice zipper both sides. Apparently it’s very rare.’’
Doctors told Ale that an artery in his arm was ‘‘spraying like a hose’’ and if surgery had been delayed several more hours his arm would have been amputated.
‘‘It was pressing on the nerve so I had no feeling in my hand, so they said if they left it until the morning my arm would basically be dead,’’ he said.
The loss of his arm could have cost him his job in the mines just three weeks after his second child, a boy named Kalani, was born.
Ale already has his son’s name tattooed on his neck.
Wests coach Craig Miller said everyone at the Rosellas was relieved for the popular clubman.
‘‘He’s lucky to have kept his arm, so there’s bigger issues than football,’’ Miller said. ‘‘We’re very happy he’s got through that and he’s got feeling. There were a couple of days during the week which were very traumatic for his family and everybody.’’
The compartment syndrome will not add to Ale’s recovery time and he is aiming for a return in August.
‘‘They’ve told me 16 weeks,’’ Ale said. ‘‘I’m aiming to come back.
‘‘I don’t care where I play, I’m happy to play reserve grade. I’d be happy just to run around with the boys again.’’