Lubbock Boy Leaves Cook Children's On Road to Recovery

It was a happy homecoming for a Lubbock boy on Wednesday afternoon, but his road to recovery is far from over.

Luke Siegel, 9, was set to be greeted by friends and supports in the Texas Panhandle after he, his parents and sister left Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth earlier in the day.

"I have mixed feelings about leaving," said father Tim Siegel. "It's going to be another challenge.

You know, we had chapter one in Lubbock, chapter two here and now we're looking forward to the next chapter."

The Siegels' story begins July 28, 2015, when Luke was riding with a friend on what Tim Siegel described as suped-up golf cart. The friend ended up flipping and crashing the golf cart, leaving Luke with severe head trauma.

"You can go 25, 30 miles per hour," Tim Siegel said. "It was just awful."

At one point Luke suffered cardiac arrest. He's had 12 operations since and received a prognosis no parent wants to hear about his or her child.

"Doctors have told us that he wouldn't be where he is today," Tim Siegel said. "They didn't expect that based on the MRI and he's far surpassed that."

That's something the family's Cook Children's neurologist, Dr. Fernando Acosta Jr., agrees with as the family headed home.

"Over the last month he's done some very encouraging things that are really exciting," Acosta said.

Head trauma in children, the doctor said, can be vastly more significant with even a minor head injury compared to how an adult may handle it.

"What makes it more scary in children than adults is that you're dealing with the developing brain," Acosta said.

Tim Siegel encourages parents not to let children use the high-powered, motorized golf carts, which he said are all over the streets of Lubbock.

"Hopefully other people can learn form it and hopefully save a life," he said.

In the case of Luke's life, he's currently in a wheelchair and needs constant caring. But, both his family and doctor are encouraged by how far he's come since he arrived in September.

"It's really exciting the things he's done. I can't wait to see him down the line," Acosta said.

Going home may help in Luke's progress and recovery, as familiar surroundings and faces can help uplift a child. Acosta said Luke has shown signs of wanting to leave the hospital, which is a good thing.

Helping the Siegel family get through this devastating change to their lives has been the support at Cook Children's and back home in Lubbock. That includes the Facebook page Pray for Luke Siegel.

"The support has helped us, because without the support of family and friends and faith, it's devastating," he said.

Luke has also gotten support from a few celebrity strangers: some of his favorite athletes. Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus personally visited him in the hospital, and Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland sent a video message. Perhaps the best message for Luke came from his favorite football player, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

"I've played the Drew Brees video to Luke hundreds of times," his dad said. "He hears it and his eyes move a little bit."

Tim and Jenny Siegel will be hands-on in Luke's recovery at home. Tim Siegel had planned to spend more time at home anyway, after he retired this past year as the Texas Tech University tennis coach.

"Wanted to be around more, not to travel, and then 20 days later this happens," he said.

It's a heartbreaking twist of events, but the Siegel family says it's looking to the future and to Luke's condition improving even further.

"We certainly feel that he's not done yet, by no means," Tim Siegel said.

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