NEW ORLEANS – A New Orleans icon recovered from a successful surgery Monday night, according to a spokeswoman.
Retired Saints safety Steve Gleason underwent a procedure aimed at helping him breathe.
Doctors say many who are living with ALS, like Gleason, must eventually undergo a tracheotomy.
Nearly eight years after his famous game-winning blocked punt against the Falcons in the first post-Katrina game in the Superdome, Gleason continues to inspire. He is fighting a deliberately public battle with ALS. The deadly, incurable disease slowly destroys a person's motor skills and muscle strength.
On Monday afternoon, Gleason tweeted to his more than 80,000 followers, “We’ve lived this #ALS journey publicly, no reason to stop now. I am heading in for a semi-planned tracheotomy tonight. Tweet you later.”
“A tracheotomy is nothing more than a means of establishing an airway from the outside world, directly into the windpipe,” said Dr. Daniel Nuss, chairman of the department of head and neck surgery at the LSU Health Sciences Center.
A tracheotomy can be a life-saving procedure for those with ALS because it helps them breathe when their muscles have become too weak, said Nuss.
“It usually for ALS patients indicates that a certain milestone has been reached in the progressive weakness that happens with ALS,” said Nuss.
Gleason underwent the procedure at East Jefferson Hospital, said Clare Durrett, of Team Gleason. The organization works to create awareness and raise money to find a cure.
"Steve was considering the procedure for some time in the next 30 days, but because his airway suddenly became more challenged, the decision was made to do the procedure while he was in the hospital" said Durrett.
Durrett added that Gleason was having some problems with his airway Sunday night, and decided to go to the hospital for treatment and evaluation.
"I believe in the power of intention, prayer, meditation, etc. I appreciate your unified focus on healing," Steve tweeted before the surgery.
Members "Team Gleason" said the surgery took less than an hour, and was a success.
“No doubt this will enable him to be more active in his mission to continue living a productive and rich life as a husband, father, adventurer and advocate for the end of ALS,” Team Gleason posted on its Facebook page Monday night.
There was an outpouring of support from fans on social media Monday night.
Those with Team Gleason say Gleason will likely remain in the hospital for three to five days while he recovers.
If you would like to learn more about ALS and the effort to find a cure, log onto http://www.teamgleason.org/.