Eagle Point student loses leg after wrestling injury: ‘Bump in the road I gotta get through’

A high school student in Oregon loses their leg after a wrestling injury. (Source: KPTV)
Published: Apr. 1, 2023 at 10:49 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Emillio Ayala took up the sport of wrestling two years ago when his family moved from southern California to southern Oregon.

The 17-year-old Eagle Point High School senior is a testament to will, courage and strength, and that has nothing to do with his athletic achievements on the mat or the football field for the Eagles.

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The AP honors student spoke with FOX 12 from his hospital bed at OHSU on Saturday where he’s has been since suffering a freak injury during the state wrestling meet at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum five weeks ago.

“I am so excited and ready,” Ayala said. “I know this sounds kind of mean but I just don’t want to be here no more. I just want to go back and be in my comfort zone.”

So far, Ayala has undergone 12 surgeries in 24 days.

“I just deal with the pain, there is obviously going to be pain, but I guess you could say I still feel like I have two legs,” he said.

Ayala had his right leg amputated below the knee three weeks ago.

“I just powered through it,” he said. “I know I am going to be fine. I will get a prosthetic and just be back to normal.”

Ayala suffered an abnormal takedown at the 5A OSAA state wrestling tournament on Feb. 25 in his final match.

“It was bad, my knee was bent in an l-shape,” Ayala said. “My ACL, my MCL was torn, some major arteries. That ended up killing a bunch of muscle in my calf and I wasn’t able to move my foot because that muscle was dead. Couldn’t feel it at all.”

Ayala said an injury like that doesn’t normally happen.

“It was a freak accident, as they say,” he said. “It just severed everything.”

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What the injury did not sever was Ayala’s humor.

“Things happen for a reason, you just have to keep pushing on,” he said. “You can’t whine about it, it’s not going to do nothing so it’s just a bump in the road that I gotta get through.”

Once Ayala is released from the hospital Monday, he’ll then continue to heal at home before knee reconstruction surgery in two months, followed by being fitted for a prosthetic.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to assist Ayala and his family