American football player Matt Branch lost his leg after being shot by a black Labrador Retriever
Matt Branch, the former Louisiana State University offensive lineman, who played for the Tigers from 2008 till 2011 was on an annual duck hunt with friends and family near Eagle Lake in Mississippi when his black Labrador Retriever shot him from the shotgun.
They were loading duck hunting gear into a Polaris Ranger track, Matt Branch with his hunting partners when it all happened. The shotgun was laying there when the black Labrador Retriever named Tito jumped in the bed of the vehicle and stepped on the gun. He shot him in the left leg somehow opening with his paw the safety and pulling the trigger.
Matt Branch died twice before medics stabilized him
“I kind of looked around at the shock of everyone else. I looked down and saw the gaping hole in the Ranger bed next to me. That’s when I knew I was shot.” tells Matt Branch.
“I remember pretty much everything about that day up until about an hour after the accident,” continues Matt Branch. “I passed out, passed away — whatever you want to call it.”
“I coded for probably over an hour,” Branch said. “It was two different times. They (medics) worked on me and brought me back.”
He is using words “passed away” because in reality he actually died. He died twice! Before medics stabilized him. He woke up 12 days later in a hospital bed at University of Mississippi Medical Center with only one leg.
When Matt Branch woke up he did not know that his left leg was gone
Matt Branch was unconscious for almost two weeks. During that time his entire left leg was removed and he underwent nine surgeries. When he woke, he was very weak. He remembered strange dreams that seemed vivid. So vivid he spent days trying to understand what was real and what wasn’t.
“When I woke up I was extremely weak,” said Matt Branch. “I couldn’t feed myself.
“I couldn’t sit up. I could barely grab a bottle of water off the table. I’d been asleep twelve days. It’s crazy how your body can get so weak when it’s not used.”
When he woke up he did not know that his left leg was gone. He was feeling phantom pains in his leg which are common following amputation.
He was told next day after he woke up that he had lost his leg.
“It didn’t really surprise me, said Matt Branch.
“For several days they didn’t know if I would live or die, so I was happy to be alive rather than mad I lost my leg. I kind of accepted it and tried to figure out what I needed to do to get out of the hospital.”
Matt Branch decided to stay positive
He had three more additional surgeries and spent almost 60 days in rehabilitation center. Doctors were not sure whether he would walk on his own again.
“I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I was up for the task,” said Matt Branch. “I’ve done hard things in life and this was no different.”
“There were definitely times, especially in the hospital and some times after, you feel isolated,” continued Matt Branch. “You ask yourself why you lost a limb.
“But at the end of the day, you’ve still lost a limb. I decided early on to try to be positive. I still have bad days. I’m going to have bad days. I’m just going to try to best I can so I can work through it.”
Recovering from the accident and going to hunt again
Matt Branch is recovering from the accident and is back at work. He is 30 years old and a father and husband and walks now with the help of titanium prosthetic leg.
His life will never be the same. But he hopes to reach the point where his current life is normal again and he will remain hunting.
Matt Branch finished: “I’m going to continue to hunt. I’m not going to blame this on hunting — or guns, for that matter. I probably won’t hunt as much as I used to just because I can’t do all the things I did before, but I’m going to continue to hunt and carry on the hunting tradition in my family, for sure.”
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