Albon out of intensive care after “respiratory failure” post-operation

2022 F1 season

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Williams driver Alexander Albon will return to the UK on Tuesday, the team has announced, after he suffered unexpected medical complications following an operation for appendicitis in Italy.

The 26-year-old, who returned to Formula 1 with Williams this year, participated in both Friday practice sessions for last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix in Monza before withdrawing from the event. The team announced he had suddenly falling ill with appendicitis and drafted Nyck de Vries in as a substitute.

Williams had confirmed that Albon had received hospital treatment on Saturday and was recovering, with the driver himself reassuring fans with a post on social media. However, an update from the team on Monday afternoon confirmed that Albon had experienced “respiratory failure” following his surgery and had to be moved to intensive care for further treatment.

Albon is said to have made “excellent progress” over Saturday night and was removed from a ventilator on Sunday morning. Williams confirmed that the driver had experienced “no further complications” and was expected to return to the UK on Tuesday.

He is aiming to return to racing at the Singapore Grand Prix, practice for which begins on September 30th.

Williams Racing statement on Alexander Albon

Further to Alex Albon’s diagnosis of appendicitis on the morning of Saturday 10th September, he was admitted to San Gerardo hospital for treatment. He underwent a successful laparoscopic surgery on Saturday lunchtime.

Following surgery, Alex suffered with unexpected post-operative anaesthetic complications which led to respiratory failure, a known but uncommon complication. He was re-intubated and transferred to intensive care for support.

He made excellent progress overnight and was able to be removed from mechanical ventilation yesterday morning. He has now been transferred to a general ward and is expected to return home tomorrow. There were no other complications.

Alex’s full focus is on recovery and preparation ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix later this month.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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46 comments on “Albon out of intensive care after “respiratory failure” post-operation”

  1. Unlucky, but the most important thing is that he’s okay.

  2. Woah, glad to see that he is now recovering. I hope to see him out and about in the paddock soon again.

  3. Hope he is okay though !

  4. Excellent progress and respiratory failure do not go well toggether.

    1. Only if it’s the former first then the latter. As it is, seems the latter happened first then the former fortunately.

    2. @jureo I think they mean that his respiratory function is close to normal, unaided. That’s good news.

    3. I think excellent progress from the point of view of somebidy that was recently intubated.

      Young string patient like him would be a small number of reasons why he would have respiratory failure after surgery. One is incomplete reversal of paralysis, the other is if he aspirated and had aspiration pneumonia, and the last is if he had a laryngospasm and subsequent negative pressure pulmonary edema. The first he can be back for acing very soon. The latter two he may have a few weeks of not being 100 percent at hard efforts but otherwise be OK.

  5. I’m assuming he won’t race at Singapore as a mandatory precaution.

    1. Yeah, hard to imagine he would be deemed fit that soon for such an exhausting race after going through this.

    2. Hopefully they will not rush him back to recovery.

    3. In the old days, an appendix removal required a single incision 2 or 3 inches long. My guess is it hurt like H… afterwards.
      When I had mine out about 10 years ago, they had progressed to orthoscopic surgery that only required three small incisions, each bout 15 mm long, each one that hurt like H….!
      Biggest issue afterwards was core muscle recovery. Took weeks to get back to some semblance of normal. Driving was a real challenge.
      Being young, fit and incredibly motivated, I expect he will be back soon, but not in under 2 weeks.

      1. Just checked the schedule, 3 weeks. He will have missed some training but he should be fine so long as no one makes him laugh for the next week or two.

        1. “should be fine so long as no one makes him laugh for the next week or two”

          Ferrari pit crew, please don’t do anything which will cause make me split my side lauching

        2. You would almost certainly be right, if not for the bit about the respiratory stuff and ending up in intensive care for a night @rekibsn – that should make any medical expert take extra care before declaring him fit to race in Singapore in a relatively short while already.

          1. @bascb I expect that the complications were a reaction to the anesthetic. We don’t actually know how or why anesthetics work so consequently there are complications that aren’t that uncommon. I’m not medical but I’ve had discussions about anesthetics with doctor’s and anesthetists so have some basic understanding on the topic.

            If my interpretation is correct, there shouldn’t any additional complications or delays other than letting wounds heal which with laproscopic surgery isn’t too bad. It’s far less punishing than traditional surgery but everyone recovers at their own rate.

          2. Indeed @antznz I recall that after the kidney transplant I had, I sort of scared my wife and my mother with moments where my body forgot to breath in the recovery room where I came to; nurse kept reminding me to actively check whether I was breathing; it’s apparently a know issue that for some the breathing doesn’t re-start right away, especially after a longer OP (or when one is especially heavy, ie. w. lots of anesthetics needed I think). Once the anestethics were out of my system I was fine on that front.

            Of course, having extra time on that ventilator is heavy for the body (recall that is one of the things that made recovery after covid-based intensive care though), which makes being fit for F1 in three weeks time seem like quite a challenge, in that I do agree with @bascb

            I do expect Albon would be wise to make sure he is closely monitored while working to regain his condition, as I’d think the FIA doctors will be wanting to make very sure he’s completely fine.

      2. Arthroscopic not orthoscopic. Sorry for the pedantry

        1. Or really laparoscopic if we’re talking about appendicectomies.

  6. Get well soon, Alex. :)

  7. Oh god. Glad he’s on the mend but that’s really shocking to hear. Get well soon Alex!

  8. That’s a bit of a shock to here, wishing him a good recovery.

  9. Oh man, poor guy.

  10. Respiratory failure gave some of us a heart attack surely..

    1. Resporatory failure and two weeks recovery before the most demanding race of the season? 23 corners with a laptime of 100-110 seconds? And then 61 laps? He has to be out really. Singapore race is too risky.

  11. Bloody hell. Thank god he’s alright.

    1. Yeah, that was a shock to read. I mean I know appendicitis isn’t fun, but respiratory failure. Singapore seems optimistic, but i’m not a doctor.

      Get well soon Alex – hopefully it’s a scar and a story to tell down the line.

  12. Lucky that the Doctors saw what the problem was and operated right away. Still a conplication is dangerous.

    Get well soon Alex!

  13. Wow, scary stuff for him, his family, and his team. Wishing you a speedy recovery, Alex.

  14. Blimey – I hope the scare’s over, and one of my favourite underdogs from this season can pick up where he left off. Unwelcome echoes of Ronnie Peterson, another Monza patient who suffered complications after a seemingly routine operation, but with tragic consequences.

    1. @bullfrog Wasn’t that in Monza/Milan too?

  15. In the old days, an appendix removal required a single incision 2 or 3 inches long. My guess is it hurt like H… afterwards.
    When I had mine out about 10 years ago, they had progressed to orthoscopic surgery that only required three small incisions, each bout 15 mm long, each one that hurt like H….!
    Biggest issue afterwards was core muscle recovery. Took weeks to get back to some semblance of normal. Driving was a real challenge.
    Being young, fit and incredibly motivated, I expect he will be back soon, but not in under 2 weeks.

    1. tesla (@thedogjustpukedonme)
      12th September 2022, 23:19

      The advice I had the after same laparoscopic procedure was to not stress the core at all for a minimum of 6 weeks. Not sure Singapore is realistic for him which would be a shame but I would certainly like to see Nyck given another chance.

      1. Nyck is already next to his bed.
        Churning out jokes.

  16. Wow. Glad he’s recovering. My understanding is that in some cases they give you an option of either a course of antibiotics or the knives. The former approach has a high (30 percent?) chance of another inflammation. But any surgery has the risk of a separate infection or bad reaction to anesthesia.

  17. Well, I believe it was a punishment from Odin for giving a Thor film a 1-star review on IMDB.

    I feel my viewpoint and theirs have equal merit.

  18. So sorry to hear he’s side lined with something like this. They say its a simple surgery, but I say its only simple if it is happening to the other guy. I’ve had major surgery and just waking up and getting your bearings can be very difficult. Recovery post op is different for everyone depending on how the anesthesia is metabolized out of the body. I’m just glad they caught it and were able to get him on a ventilator him in time. Hopefully he’ll be back soon. He always seems like a very nice young man. Get well soon!

  19. Knowingly or unknowingly.. you have peddled their thoughts here

  20. This post-anesthetic “respiratory failure” usually has one of two causes:
    A) excessive opioids that cause respiratory depression
    B) insufficient recovery of muscle function.
    The fact that this complication occurred soon after awakening post-surgery probably indicates the second option.
    In a super-fit young world-class athlete this shouldn’t happen.
    Anyhow the problem was identified and the Albon has now completely recovered.
    I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in Singapore.

  21. Glad to hear he’s all ok, probably an acute failure.

    That’s some ridiculous optimism to expect him to race in 2 weeks. Even without the respiratory issue, I expect a month. I think he’ll be back racing in the United States gp

  22. I have an opinion
    12th September 2022, 23:04

    Alex’s rapid recovery from respiratory failure suggests it could have been preventable with appropriate analgesia and chest physiotherapy. Inadequate degassing at the end of the laparoscopy could also have contributed.

    Conspiracy theorists might say De Vries didn’t try hard enough to secure a drive at Singapore.

  23. Not saying it caused his issue, but the number of respiratory cases in young adults has increased dramatically in the last year…

    1. You’d think long Covid issues or other respiratory viral infections have been on the rise after the end of lockdown, not vaccine complications…

  24. I suspect Ferrari strategists planned his operation…
    Get well ASAP, Alex!

  25. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster for Alex this weekend. He sets competitive times in Friday practice and goes to bed thinking of car setup and going faster on a circuit where engine power is important (which the Mercedes-powered Williams has and Nyck de Vries demonstrated later in the race). He wakes up on Saturday morning with severe pain in the right side of his lower abdomen, is taken to the hospital right away, put on anesthesia and operated on in the afternoon. In the evening he is unable to breathe, is put in the ICU, and manages to experience some kind of normalcy in the night. In just 24 hours, his environment changed.

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