09/24/2010 3:54PM

Martinez transferred to rehab center


Jockey Michael Martinez, who suffered a severed spinal cord in a Sept. 12 racing accident at Golden Gate Fields, was transferred Friday afternoon from Highland Hospital in Oakland to the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, a nationally renowned rehabilitation facility in San Jose, Calif.

Jockeys Jose Arriaga and Sonny Ho, who suffered serious head injuries, were previously treated at the center, which is affiliated with the Stanford University Hospital.

Hopes that Martinez could be a candidate for experimental stem-cell treatment at Northwestern University Hospital were quashed earlier in the week when a high-definition magnetic resonance imaging test could not be obtained and after Dr. Frederico Castro-Moure, who conducted an 11-hour operation on Martinez after the accident, described the extent of the injuries to Dr. Richard Fessler of Northwestern, who was to determine whether Martinez would be candidate for treatment.

Golden Gate Fields track physician Dr. David Seftel also contacted Dr. Jorge Paz Rodriguez in Martinez’s native Panama about an adult stem-cell program he runs, but the program is available only for patients that have gone through the rehab process that Martinez will start at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

Although Seftel will pursue other options, he said stem-cell treatments are less successful after some healing and scarring had begun. The treatment at Northwestern would have required injections within 14 days of the injury.

On Tuesday, Martinez’s fiancée, Charlotte Garcia, gave birth to the couple’s first child, a healthy baby girl named Merari.