‘The Challenge’ Star Nelson Thomas Says He’s Facing Amputation Due To Ankle Injury Sustained in Near-Fatal Car Accident Earlier This Year: “I Gotta Make My Choice”

Get well soon, Nelly T!

Nearly seven months after suffering severe injuries from a near-fatal car accident, Nelson Thomas of The Challenge has received some “disheartening news” on his recovery journey. 

As The Ashley previously told you, Nelson was pulled out of his burning vehicle in March after crashing it in Austin, Texas. He was helped at the scene by Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn and three other bystanders, whom he credits with saving his life. 

While Nelson is thrilled to be alive, his recovery has been grueling, and now the ‘Challenge’ vet says he’s facing possible amputation of his ankle.

After his accident, Nelson spent nearly two months in the hospital undergoing multiple surgeries on his ankle, which suffered extensive injuries, along with his forearm. The longtime ‘Challenge’ competitor has regularly shared updates on his health via social media, which he did once again on Wednesday following an appointment at Texas Orthopedics in Austin. 

In the emotional video, Nelson revealed that he had just “received the most disheartening news” about his ankle.

“ … I just got my scans back, just got my x-rays back– the bone has been re-broken,” Nelson said. “It is out of place, it’s not healing at all.” 

Nelson said he had been experiencing pain over the last couple of weeks, but assumed it was a result of overworking his ankle during physical therapy; however, he was informed by his doctor that it is actually much more serious.

” … Come to find out, where they have the screws and plates, the bone broke. It did not re-heal,” he explained. ” … The doctor has laid my options out there. The stage that I’m in right now is called a salvage stage, which [means] either they can salvage my ankle, or they can amputate it. 

“Right now, I just, at this point it’s been seven months since my surgery,” he continued. “When I got out of surgery, my doctor said it’ll take up to a year for me to heal. These last seven months have been a f**king waste, dude. F**k. I’m so mad right now, bro. So mad.” 

Before moving forward, Nelson said he has to undergo another CT scan, more bloodwork and another appointment with his doctor. 

” …and I gotta make my choice,” he said. “Do I want to have an ankle fusion [surgery], which [will] salvage my ankle, or do I want to amputate my ankle? At this point, man, I am so mentally drained. I just don’t know.” 

(An ankle fusion surgery– or arthrodesis—fuses the injured ankle joints into an immobile segment of bone. Nelson would not have much mobility in those bones afterward, if any, which is why this procedure is only considered when all other options other than amputation are exhausted. Fusion surgery carries significant risks and is often not successful, leading to a below-the-knee amputation anyway.) 

Nelson said in the meantime he is “just going to pray about it.” He also thanked those who have supported him along his healing journey. 

“This is not going to break me, but goddamn, I’m so over hearing bad news,” he added. “I just wanted some good news today.”

In the caption of his post, Nelson noted that he has chosen to seek a second opinion from a specialist and asked his followers if they had any recommendations for doctors who “specialize in ankle fusion or related treatments.” 

Unfortunately this is not the first setback Nelson has encountered in his recovery. Back in May, he was hospitalized after experiencing pain and shortness of breath.

“I saw my cardiovascular doctor and he let me know that I have a small pneumonia in my chest, fluid around my heart, and fluid around my lungs,” he told followers.  

Nelson was hospitalized again in July due to infection in his ankle.

Shortly after the March car accident, a friend of Nelson’s created a GoFundMe where friends, family and fans could make a financial contribution towards his mounting medical bills and other recovery aids, as he was uninsured at the time of the accident. The online fundraiser remains active. 

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(Photos: Instagram) 

6 Responses

  1. Someone else was filming the the rescue, while Minnesota Vikings Wide Receiver K.J. Osborn & others pulled Nelson from his burning car.

  2. My heart goes out to this man. I shattered and blew out my heel last year. Complete reconstructive surgery. Not the same but I know the bullshit with your feet trying to heel. I hope dude will be alright. I hate this for him

  3. I rode this same ride. Get the amputation & get on with it. Six years of crutches, and surgery was a total waste of time. Once I made the decision to chop that sucker off,…FREEDOM.

  4. Nelson was never my favorite Challenge competitor. But he is a really good guy at heart and I feel badly for him. What a a long and awful ordeal. Especially for someone who has made his living (at least so far) off of his body and fitness. Poor guy. I hope what we he decides, things start to improve for him.

  5. Did the football player film this and not run up and carry this man while other people were struggling to help him?

  6. I don’t know this man but I’m so sorry for him. My mom suffered a leg amputation 3 years ago and it broke her. But he’s young, he can have an amputation and live a more normal life than if he has his ankle fixed and immobile. There are awesome prosthetics.
    I hope everything goes well for him.

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