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Minn. Football Player, 16, Recovering After Severe Brain Injury

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(credit: CBS) Holly Wagner
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Parents of a 16-year-old football player from the west metro say they’re thankful their son is alive.

Luke Nelson, a linebacker for Dassel-Cokato High School, suffered a severe head injury during their Friday night game against Orono. He’s now in serious condition at HCMC after having emergency brain surgery.

His parents, Sara and Greg Nelson, recounted the frantic and unforgettable moments from their son’s game. Luke took a hit that could have killed him.

“You don’t want to be the parent that runs on the field, but we were the parents that ran on the field,” Sara Nelson said. “We think there might have been a head-on-head or knee-on-head collision.”

But his mom says the reaction wasn’t immediate.

“A couple plays later we saw him stumbling around, very disoriented, did not know where he was at,” Sara Nelson said.

Luke Nelson went into seizures, was throwing up, and then became unresponsive. He was flown by helicopter to HCMC. His brain was bleeding and time was running out.

“He went into surgery around 12:20 (a.m.) and they saved his life, and we are so grateful for that,” said Sara as she fought back tears.

Doctors removed the right half of their son’s skull.

It’s unclear what’s in store in the days and weeks ahead in terms of recovery and his parents have no idea whether he’ll ever play football again.

“We’re gonna deal with it a day at a time. He’ll have a hard time with it but he has a lot going for him,” Sara Nelson said.

This is the second time in two years Luke Nelson has suffered a head injury in football. He sat out his freshman year because of a concussion.

Luke Nelson’s dad says after seeing what happened to his son, he’s had a change of heart.

“I’m one of them dad’s that have always been you have to get out and play, tough it out.” “I’ve seen the other side now and you need to get that through to those kids,” Greg Nelson said. “There’s a whole lot more to life than living that game Friday night.”

Greg Nelson says he plans to talk to parents about urging their kids to sit out when they don’t feel right.

The Nelson Family says their son is making remarkable progress and is in good spirits. Meanwhile, his friends and teammates are flooding Twitter with encouraging words and support.

One of the first things he asked when he woke up was how the game turned out. The Nelson’s say he was disappointed to find out his team lost.

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