Kevin Babington, the Irish Olympic show jumper who suffered a spinal cord injury in a fall at the Hampton Classic (New York) on Aug. 30, is breathing on his own.
His wife, Dianna Babington, posted on Facebook on Oct. 15, “I am extremely happy to report that last night Kevin was off the ventilator completely overnight. That marks 24 hours of unassisted breathing. This is a huge success. This means freedom to travel when rehab is behind him. This means his diaphragm has gotten stronger. This means teaching will be well within his wheelhouse once he gets stronger! He slept well, maintained his oxygen status perfectly and is bright this morning. His respiratory therapist said his ventilator should get its resume together.”
“He’s doing well,” said Kevin’s sister-in-law Daun Imperatore. “He’s really exceeding their expectations, so we’re hoping that all these signs are indications that his body is recovering, not fully like we’d like to see, but all signs he’s healing. Once you can use your diaphragm, it’s usually a good sign.”
The Babington family is encouraged by the progress they’ve seen since Kevin was transferred to the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, New Jersey, on Sept. 24. He has recovered from his bout of pneumonia and as of a week after he arrived at Kessler he has been eating regular meals.
“According to medical experts, the body is recovering,” said Imperatore. “If the body was not repairing itself he would be stagnant; he would be where he was when he first was injured. It’s really encouraging to hear it in that perspective. He’s getting stronger; his diaphragm is getting stronger; he’s breathing on his own without assistance, so it’s really great news.”
Imperatore said the Babingtons hope Kevin will remain at the rehabilitation center for another eight to 12 weeks as he gains strength before returning home to Allentown, New Jersey.
Fundraising efforts have continued with Princeton Show Jumping (New Jersey) holding Jump For Kevin classes throughout their fall festival and Duncraven Stables in Titusville, New Jersey, hosting a Babington Family Benefit Horse Show on Oct. 13.
“At the Duncraven show, they were turning people away because they were going to run out of daylight,” said Imperatore. “Dianna was there; I was there as well, and it was incredible. People come up all the time to tell me what an influence [Kevin and Dianna have] had. I say it’s well deserved because they’re such good people. To see this amount of support it’s the best of humanity. It truly is very close knit, but this is almost like a movement, and it’s almost hard not to cry or tear up when you see shamrocks and the Irish flag and the armbands. People are doing anything they can to support Kevin, and it is overwhelmingly amazing. We’re so grateful; I can’t put it into words.”
The family remains hopeful that Kevin will make a full recovery, and they plan on giving back and hope to help further research into spinal cord injuries.
“That would be great if that’s the silver lining,” said Imperatore. “Christopher Reeve shone a huge light on it, but if Kevin can, in his own way, shine a small light that’d be really, really wonderful. We’re hopeful that’s where this road takes us. I think the equestrian community would rally around too. Right now we’re very encouraged.”