Donnelly Could Be Sidelined Until June

Times Staff Writer

Brendan Donnelly could need up to six weeks to recover from complications stemming from a broken nose, according to two surgeons familiar with the nature of his injuries, but once the Angel reliever is healed, doctors don’t expect the serious nosebleeds he has been experiencing to be a problem.

“We usually recommend a patient not do any strenuous exercise for four to six weeks because the areas of healing are inflamed, and exercise increases the blood pressure and the chance for bleeding,” said Dr. Marilene Wang, associate professor of the UCLA Medical Center’s division of head and neck surgery.

“It’s common after a facial fracture to have bleeding.... It’s impossible to say whether there will be any permanent effects, but it will heal in time.”

Donnelly, an All-Star setup man who was 2-2 with a 1.58 earned-run average in 63 games last season, suffered 20 fractures of his nose when he was struck by a batting-practice fly ball March 9 and underwent surgery to reset his nose.


Donnelly began working out a week after surgery, but after experiencing nosebleeds that were so serious he lost roughly half the blood in his body over a 48-hour span, Donnelly underwent a second surgery March 20 to cauterize the blood vessels in his nose.

He returned to camp Saturday and did some light exercises, but the nosebleeds returned that night. Donnelly underwent a third surgical procedure, and he is expected to remain hospitalized for several more days.

If it takes six weeks for Donnelly to heal, the right-hander may not begin throwing and lifting weights again until mid-May. He would need another week or two to get in shape, build up arm strength and gain his command in minor league games, meaning Donnelly might not return to the Angels until early June.

“He shouldn’t run or lift weights -- anything that might increase his blood pressure -- for four to six weeks,” Wang said. “Then, he can gradually pick up his activity. As a professional athlete, his activity level is very high, so he has to be pretty careful. He’s had a serious injury. It takes time to heal.”


Dr. James P. Bradley, chief of pediatric plastic surgery at UCLA Medical Center, said if the nosebleeds persist, Donnelly might need an embolization of the nose, a procedure in which a radiologist sends a clot-forming device into the nose.

“It’s a last resort, but if this is his livelihood, it sounds like it may be necessary,” said Bradley, a cranial and facial surgeon. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the next step.... Problematic nosebleeds can be difficult to deal with because some blood vessels are deep in the nose and can’t be reached through surgery.”

Wang and Bradley said Donnelly was not in grave danger despite the significant loss of blood before his second surgery.

“You can make up for the loss of blood with iron supplements and transfusions,” Wang said. “The body can regenerate blood pretty quickly.”


Manager Mike Scioscia, pitching coach Bud Black and third base coach Ron Roenicke visited Donnelly in the hospital Monday night.

Scioscia said doctors don’t want Donnelly to fly or make long drives for a while, so Donnelly will remain in Arizona when the Angels break camp Thursday afternoon.

“He’s in good spirits, but he’s frustrated and uncomfortable,” Scioscia said. “He’s ready for some good news, and hopefully he’ll get some soon.”