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America’s Cup-winning skipper nearly lost arm to infection

Jimmy Spithill came close to having his left arm amputated earlier this year after battling a serious post-surgery infection.
Jimmy Spithill said his post-surgery infection taught him a “typical, hard lesson” about balance in his life.

Jimmy Spithill said his post-surgery infection taught him a “typical, hard lesson” about balance in his life.

Jimmy Spithill came close to having his left arm amputated earlier this year after battling a serious post-surgery infection.

The two-time America's Cup-winning skipper said his decision to rush back onto the water with Oracle Team USA after surgery to repair a persistent case of tennis elbow almost cost him his arm.

Spithill, 37, picked up a severe infection after getting his wound wet and had to undergo a series of emergency surgeries before spending 10 weeks on an intravenous drip.

"I had a race, Portsmouth in the Louis Vuitton World Series, on the Saturday I tore [the tendon] off the bone, but then raced Sunday," Spithill told the Sydney Morning Herald. "The surgery was a success, but I rushed back and got it wet and picked up a real bad infection, and then it was multiple surgeries, pretty much living with the surgeon.”

"IV for 10 weeks, antibiotics morning and night, so it was a battle,” Spithill said. ”I’m glad we finally won and we beat it. If it wasn't for the surgeon, a guy by the name of Rob Bray, who knows. He saved me. I almost lost my arm."

Spithill said it was a “typical, hard lesson” to learn about balance.

"You can't just go full throttle all the time," he said. "It gave me time to really think about the campaign, what was going on. It was just a good mental test."

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