Flower Mound High School Football Player Overcomes Near-Death Injury

Practice is part of the game.

But this year, every snap, every step, every route run, has extra meaning.

"It's my senior year," said Carson Winters. "It's my last ride. Gotta play every game, like it's our last."

Carson is a wide receiver at Flower Mound High School. He's been playing football since elementary school. His parents say it's taught him so much.

"Lessons about team work, lessons about communication, lessons about overcoming adversity, persevering," said Mark Winters, Carson's dad.

Sometimes you don't realize the importance of it, until it's almost gone.

Last spring, near the end of practice, Carson caught a pass and took a hit.

"It was just a horrible pain," he remembered. "I was just sweating a ton. I was really out of it. At first, I thought it was a broken rib."

"When he went down, I could tell he was hurting," said Flower Mound head football Coach Brian Basil.

His staff was video taping that practice.

"I thought maybe he got the wind knocked out of him," Basil added. "It went from a normal football hit, to 'he's in the hospital and not feeling very good.'"

Carson was rushed to emergency room. Doctors said he suffered a deep bruise on his lower intestine and as he laid there in pain, things only got worse.

Carson's mom, Beth, said he looked terrible.

"Pain, screaming, vomiting, sweating, uncontrollable, just pain," she said.

Carson's small intestine eventually ruptured.

"There was a gallon of intestinal fluid that had spilled out into that cavity," Mark Winters explained. "So all of that acid, basically, is washing all over his organs and intestines and it's burning everything."

Doctors said it was extremely rare.

"They'd never heard of it documented in sport." Carson said. "They've only heard of it in gunshot wounds and car wrecks."

Surgeons had no time to waste.

"Now, all of a sudden, truly, it's like 'oh my gosh, he could die,'" Carson's parents remembered.

Their otherwise healthy son was fighting for his life. Doctors had no guarantees.

"The thought that went through my head and I think what I said to Beth was 'I just want my son back,'" Carson's dad said.

"And those minutes are hours," Beth added. "Oh my gosh, they are hours. Time stood still."

"The message we had passed along from his doctors and then to his parents and then to us, is, 'right now, we just gotta pray,'" Coach Basil recalled.

Carson's classmates rallied around him, too. They created wristbands and sent him 'get well soon' notes that are now plastered all over his bedroom walls.

"We've seen the power of prayer and the power of goodness," Beth said.

Finally, after 21 days in the hospital, 10 of which were in the intensive care unit, Carson was cleared to leave. He lost nearly 50 pounds.

"It wasn't necessarily 'am I going to play football?', it was 'what are these long-term effects going to be like?'" Carson remembered. "Am I going to walk again?"

"I never really fathomed that he would be back out on the football field again," Coach Basil said. "Especially so quick! He had a vision for where he wanted to be and he wanted to get there."

Carson was determined to get back on the field, this time, with extra padding around his ribs.

"I think he can do anything he puts his mind to," Beth added.

The glow of those Friday night lights is hard to resist.

"It's who he is and he loves it," she said. "Deep down inside, I believe he fought extra hard so that he could do this. I don't know how I can take that away from him."

Carson is back catching touchdowns and he's ready to lead his team into the playoffs.

"Everybody who prayed for him made a difference," Mark said. "And every time he runs out on that field, he's carrying those prayers in his heart."

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