MADRID - A Spanish bullfighter left intensive care Monday and was recovering satisfactorily in a Madrid hospital after a bull's horn ripped through his throat, pierced his tongue and smashed his palate.
Aparicio, 41, suffered the grotesque goring Friday evening during a bullfight at Madrid's Las Ventas bullring. The matador lost his balance, fell to the ground and in an instant the 530-kilogram (1,168 pound) bull drove his right horn through Aparicio's throat and out his mouth.
The beast withdrew the horn rapidly and Aparicio managed to run to the side of the ring for help.
Aparicio was initially treated at the ring's emergency medical unit, then transferred to the city's October 12th Hospital where he underwent a six-hour operation.
The October 12th Hospital said in a statement that Aparicio's condition was "evolving favorably" and that his prognosis was "less serious."
Most major bullrings in Spain and abroad are equipped with top flight teams of surgeons, traumatologists and anesthetists. Smaller bullrings are obliged to have ambulances on standby during fights
Improved medical treatment over the years has cut down the number of deaths by gorings, a fact attested to by a statue to penicillin discoverer Dr. Alexander Fleming being saluted by a bullfighter in name of his all his colleagues outside Madrid's venue.
The last matador to die from a goring in Spain was Jose Cubero Sanchez "Yiyo" in 1985.
Maximo Garcia Padros, chief surgeon at Las Ventas, told reporters on Friday after initial treatment by the medical team that that Aparicio's life was not in danger but they had to wait for a CAT scan at hospital to rule out brain damage.
"The horn penetrated into the oral cavity, causing a fracture in the upper palate," the hospital said in one of its report.
"A tracheotomy was performed and the affected structures were repaired without surgical complications arising."
Most people at the ring did not fully realize Aparicio he had been gored.
"It happened so fast, we thought he had been grazed by the horn," said American William Lyon, a former bullfighting critic for two Spanish papers and who was at the fight. "The only ones who knew for sure were the press photographers who saw it close-up up through their lenses."
"I saw him being carried to the ring infirmary and he was still conscious," Lyon told the AP.
He said people outside the ring watching it on television or looking at newspaper websites immediately started to phone people at the ring to talk about how bad the goring had been.
Bullfights are usually sold out at the 23,500-seat Las Ventas. They are also broadcast live on pay-per-view television channels.
It was the second serious goring of a bullfighter in just under a month.
Top Spanish matador Jose Tomas suffered a near-fatal goring in the Mexican city of Aguascalientes. The bull's horn severed a vein and an artery and Tomas received nearly 17 pints (eight liters) of blood in transfusions. He is now recovering back in Spain.
Hospital spokeswoman Pilar Notario said it was too early to say when Aparicio might be released.