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6-year-old Sunnyside boy back at home following wrestling practice injury

At a regular practice session of the Sunnyside Little Grapplers Wednesday, a 6-year-old boy was injured and had to be flown to Harborview Medical Center.

Zavian Sustaita sustained a spinal cord injury while wrestling a teammate.

"As soon as we let the other wrestler up my son laid motionless," said Sustaita's father, Jesus Sustaita, who was at the practice.

The youngster's eyes remained open as he lied motionless on the mat.

"He started blinking after a couple of minutes," said Sustaita. "I started to ask him questions."

The youngster was rushed to Sunnyside Community Hospital. After several conversations with specialists at Harborview Medical Center, the decision was made to airlift the 6-year-old to the Seattle hospital. An MRI of the youth's back and a check of his ligaments were done at the hospital, where he was kept overnight. As time went on Sustaita gradually regained movement in his arms and legs.

Doctors determined that Sustaita suffered from Spinal Cord Injury without Radiographic Abnormality (SCIWORA), an extremely rare condition that can occur in youths.

"It's kind of like a shock to his spinal cord that blocks the neurons," said Sustaita, who is a science teacher at Mabton High School.

The young Sustaita stayed overnight at Harborview Medical Center before being released yesterday (Thursday).

"He's wearing a neck brace for the next two or three weeks," said his father, adding that the injury ended this year's wrestling season for his son, who was in his first year of wrestling.

"He'll continue next year," he added.

Although he is wearing the neck brace, mostly as a precaution, the youngster is looking forward to the coming soccer and baseball seasons.

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