Surgery goes well for UH's Jackson
By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer
Former University of Hawai'i football player Nate Jackson was in serious but stable condition last night at The Queen's Medical Center following a five-hour operation to replace a damaged heart valve, his mother said last night.
Margie Jackson said her son's operation went according to plan, and that he was able to talk briefly after the operation.
"The first thing he said to me was: It's over," Margie Jackson said. "The doctors said he's doing very well.
"I really want to express my gratitude to everyone for their prayers, their concerns and their donations. Our family is just so overwhelmed by the people of this state."
Doctors postponed Jackson's surgery twice earlier this month for precautionary reasons before yesterday's operation. Jackson has been at Queen's since Oct. 24 after suffering complications from a viral infection.
Jackson, a 1998 Wai'anae High graduate, was four-year starter at free safety for UH before completing his football eligibility last December. He competed in the Tennessee Titans' training camp before leaving to tend to family matters. Jackson also is a senior outfielder for the UH baseball team.
Margie Jackson said doctors yesterday replaced her son's damaged heart valve with a healthy valve that was harvested from a pig. Jackson was in intensive care last night and hoped to be in a regular room in a few days.
"I'm very relieved," Margie Jackson said. "The doctors and the nurses were wonderful. Everyone was fabulous. If I could, I would take all of them home."
Jackson, who still has baseball eligibility, still wants to play the sport, but doctors told him that he would need a couple of months of recuperation, his mother said.
She said it was unclear how Jackson got sick. Last month, Jackson developed flu-like symptoms, including daily fevers, which landed him in the hospital.
"(Doctors) don't know the source of the infection," she said.
Jackson does not have health insurance. He has a 2-year-old son, Nate Jr., and he and his girlfriend, Shirreen, are expecting a baby next month.
Donation tables will be set up at remaining UH football games at Aloha Stadium, and numerous fund-raisers have been organized to help Jackson pay for his medical costs, said friend Susan Kekai. Last night, a benefit was held at Murphy's Bar & Grill.
Also, all proceeds from the Advertiser newspaper lineup/Bowtime sales for tomorrow's University of Hawai'i football game against Cincinnati at Aloha Stadium will be donated to the fund.
Kekai said she has received hundreds of donations from across the state, many of them coming with heartfelt cards for Jackson.
"There was this one card from a woman who was going to be 82 in December," Kekai said. "She admired him so much. She wasn't really a football fan, but she knew of his determination of driving from Wai'anae to the UH everyday before he got a scholarship. She just admired him so much for his perseverance and his determination.
"A lot of people have heard about him and enjoyed him for all the years. They want to give back, because he's given so much to Hawai'i. He's made Hawai'i proud."
Despite the donations, Kekai said they are still "real short" of the conservative estimate of the $100,000 to $200,000 medical bill. Kekai declined to say how much money they have raised.