Emilio undergoes more surgery

March 26, 2008 5:39:42 PM PDT
Grammy-winning singer Emilio Navaira underwent more brain surgery as doctors try to save the life of the Tejano entertainer severely injured in the crash of his tour bus Easter morning, doctors said Wednesday. Physicians took the 45-year-old Navaira, known to his fans simply as Emilio, back to the operating room Tuesday evening for nearly two hours of surgery.

"The presures in his brain started to creep up a little bit, never became critical, but during the course of the day they seemed to be responding less and less well to some of the medicines we were giving," said Dr. Alex Valadka, director of neurotrauma services at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and vice chair of neurosciences at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

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He said he reopened an incision made during Navaira's initial surgery Sunday and removed a piece of bone that had been taken out and put back following that first operation to remove a blood clot. "That gave the brain some room to expand," he said. "The problem, of course, is the skull is a closed box and if the brain swells, there is no room to accommodate swelling."

The piece of skull was being preserved and will be replaced "at some point in the next few weeks or months," he said.

"After the surgery, the pressures in the brain were lower and Emilio tolerated the surgery fine without any problems or complications," Valadka said.

Navaira was thrown through the windshield when his bus crashed. The wreck, which remains under investigation, left several members of Navaira's band, including his brother, Raul, with less serious injuries.

"I give thanks to God, not for the accident, but for happening here," Raul Navaira, 40, said Wednesday. "It couldn't have happened in a better place.

"We're just remembering the good times," he said, his voice shaking. "We can't have nothing but hope.

"I have faith," Navaira, who had a black eye from the wreck, added. "I believe in faith.

"With all these people praying for him. There's so much love and everything. I think that's the best medicine for my brother."

Police in Bellaire, the Houston enclave where the crash occurred at the interchange of Interstate 610 and U.S. Highway 59, said Navaira was not licensed to drive the 26,000-pound tour bus. Authorities said it was possible he may have fallen asleep. They also were awaiting the results of blood-alcohol tests.

Doctors have put his survival chances at 30 to 35 percent. Even if he lives, however, Valadka said it was possible he could remain in a coma, be paralyzed or have memory loss.

The San Antonio-born Navaira has five children, ranging in age from 2 to 18, from two marriages.

Navaira and his band, Rio, had tour dates planned for later this week in California. They've released more than a dozen albums, including "Acuerdate," which won a Grammy in 2003 for best Tejano album.

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