Ed Koester undergoes spinal surgery
by John Bednarowski
sportseditor@mdjonline.com
August 23, 2013 12:26 AM | 1723 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ed Koester, the former South Cobb football coach now at South Paulding, underwent surgery Thursday to remove a large tumor from his spinal cord.

The 5-hour, 15-minute procedure went well, Koester said in a text message to the Journal. The procedure was performed by Dr. Costas Hadjipanayis, a neurosurgeon at Emory University Hospital Midtown in Atlanta.

Koester’s son, Kyle, said his father would likely spend the next day or two in intensive care before being transferred into a regular room. Kyle Koester said it has not been determined if his father would have to spend any time recovering at the Shepherd Center, Atlanta’s world-renowned spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation center.

“He has movement in his legs,” Kyle Koester said. “We hope that he will be able to walk regularly again at some point. And he’s going to have weakness in his right arm.”

Ed Koester was diagnosed with the tumor last month after complaining about having neck and back pain, an approximate 2-inch mass was discovered following an MRI.

In addition, Kyle Koester said the MRI showed that there were cysts on either side of the tumor, located between the C3 and C5 vertebrae at the base of the elder Koester’s neck, which made it imperative that surgery be performed as soon as possible.

“The doctor said, with the cysts on either side, that if one of them ruptured, it would certainly blow a hole in his spinal cord,” Kyle Koester said. “If that happened, he would either die or be paralyzed.”

The 58-year-old Ed Koester, hired at South Paulding in May after spending the previous five seasons at South Cobb, informed his team Wednesday that he would be undergoing the surgery, but he told Kyle Koester that he plans on missing only two regular-season games. Ed Koester’s plan is to be back coaching by Sept. 20, when South Paulding travels to face Woodland High School in Cartersville.

If Koester does return to practice prior to that third game, his son said he would get around by wheelchair or golf cart. Koester’s game-day coaching duties would be done from the press box.

“Everyone knows Dad’s passion for football,” Kyle Koester said. “This trumps that. But he plans on getting back as soon as possible, because, at South Paulding, he said he’s found his dream job.”

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