Update On The Great Khali’s Surgery; Recovering Well, Possible Risks & Legal Issues

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ABC News features a new article providing more details on The Great Khali’s surgery which he underwent on Wednesday to have a tumor removed. The article mentions the potential risks of Khali’s acromegaly, and WWE‘s wellness policy. Khali is recovering well, and is expected to be released from the Universary of Pittsburgh Medical Center hopefully by Monday.

The ABC article also mentions WWE could potentially be in legal trouble for failing to address conditions such as acromegaly in its performers (as performers such as Andre The Giant have reaped size-related benefits from acromegaly), but notes that WWE’s legal team is notoriously effective. Here are some excerpts from the article.

Despite the surgery on Wednesday, Singh, 39, is at greater risk of facing health problems such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and even poor vision if the tumor came into contact with the nearby optic nerves, Cohen said. In 1993, star wrestler Andre the Giant, who stood at 7 feet and 5 inches, and weighed 500 pounds, died at age 46 of congestive heart failure caused by acromegaly.

In a statement, WWE spokesman Adam Hopkins said that “[a]s part of WWE’s ongoing wellness evaluation, we are happy that The Great Khali (Dalip Singh) had successful pituitary surgery, and we look forward to him returning to the ring in the near future.”

Cohen said Singh could be healthy enough to return to the ring within months, but if he does, it might be at the risk of internal bleeding at the surgical site caused by physical contact.

WWE’s knowledge of Singh and other wrestlers’ acromegaly could put it in a precarious legal position, said Gabriel Feldman, who directs the sports law program at Tulane Law School.

Whether WWE could be held liable for failing to address such conditions depends on the terms of its talent contracts, Feldman said, adding that WWE attorneys are known for the scrupulousness with which they guard the publicly traded but privately controlled company from liability. WWE contracts tend to tilt most of the leverage toward the company, he said.

“This may be more of a moral problem than a legal problem,” Feldman said.

Dr. Bryan Donohue, a UPMC cardoiologist and WWE’s cardiovascular consultant since 2008, said in his experience, WWE has never put commercial interests above the health of its performers, adding that many WWE executives are former wrestlers.

“The narrative is obvious, that the interests of WWE are antithetical to those of the talent, but I’ve found that they’ve been very responsive to things I’ve asked them to do,” Donohue said. “I’ve never experienced any pushback on any issue.”

While Donohue said he could not comment on Singh’s case, he said the decision to operate on a pituitary tumor does not follow reflexively from a diagnosis of acromegaly. The timing, especially for adults, can be influenced by a range of factors.

Braunstein, the Cedars-Sinai endocrinologist, said he has seen several acromegalic patients who have refused surgery and even a growth hormone-reducing medication in hopes of preserving their gigantism. When he tells them that acromegaly shortens life expectancy, they often “shop around for other doctors,” he said.