Doctors cautious over Swinburn

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The Independent Online
Doctors treating Walter Swinburn yesterday warned against over- optimism in assessing the jockey's condition. The 34-year-old rider is conscious but has to overcome severe breathing problems, a fluid build- up in the lungs and multiple fractures suffered in a fall at Sha Tin racecourse on Sunday.

His father, Wally, who flew in to Hong Kong on Monday, was quoted in the South China Morning Post as saying that his son could be back in the saddle within months. But Dr Tom Buckley, who is in charge of the intensive- care unit at the Prince of Wales Hospital where Swinburn is being treated, warned: "He has had a severe trauma, with multiple fractures, bruised lungs and severe head injury.

"His principal problems relate to the head and chest. Patients with this kind of trauma can be very stable but can then suddenly deteriorate. He is quite stable at the moment, and we are guardedly optimistic."

The Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club's racing director, Philip Johnston, said: "Our report is that he is getting better and the doctors remain cautiously optimistic. But he is in intensive care and you are not in there for nothing - if he really was fully on the road to recovery he would be out.

"I saw him with his father last night. He's obviously got a long way to go," he said. "They are quietly confident things are going the right way. At the same time they're worried things could turn the wrong way. The lungs are a delicate area."