ST. CHARLES – St. Charles North sophomore Aidan Carlson woke up from a medically-induced coma on Monday night, and his uncle Sean Peters said he was "overjoyed" when he was able to look into his nephew's eyes and tell him that he loved him.
Carlson, 15, suffered a subdural hematoma – bleeding on his brain – and collapsed in the locker room after the sophomore football game at St. Charles East High School on Oct. 4, said Peters, who is the brother of Aidan's mother.
"He is responding to a lot of different things," Peters said on Tuesday morning. "Words are hard for him to come by, but he's smiling and attempting to speak. He's going to need a lot of rehabilitation, but we're very encouraged by this. We know he recognizes us. We're very close and he gave me a brief hug."
Peters said that Carlson, a running back and linebacker for the North Stars, played the entire game against St. Charles East, "up until the last snap." After the game ended, he said Carlson mentioned that he was dizzy and began to vomit in the locker room, where then he collapsed and began having seizures. He was taken to Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, and was airlifted from there to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.
It's not clear at what point Carlson suffered the injury Friday, Peters said.
"The doctors said he had a slow bleed in his brain and they don't think it was one hit at the end of the game, they think it happened at some point earlier in the game," Peters explained. "He had an emergency craniotomy and the doctors had to remove part of his skull so the [brain] swelling could go down."
Subdural hematoma is generally caused by severe head trauma, according to Harvard Medical School. The site used the example of a high-speed motorcycle accident as something that could cause such an injury in young people. As blood builds up in between the brain and its tough outer lining, putting pressure on the brain itself.
Peters started a Go Fund Me page on Monday night to raise funds for Carlson's family to help with his medical bills. As of Tuesday morning, it had raised nearly double the $10,000 goal in less than 24 hours.
"We're so appreciative of everyone's generosity, concern and prayers," Peters said. "It's amazing how quickly [the funding goal was reached]. We need any help we can get at this point. We haven't begun to process what's next for Aidan, but anything people want to give is great. [The money] will all go to Aidan's recovery."
Peters said his sister, Moran, has been through a "hellacious" weekend, but she's very grateful for the community's support.
"[Aidan's parents, Moran and Ron Carlson] have really been there for Aidan, and I'm so proud of them for being so strong," Peters said. "My sister hasn't slept a wink since this happened, so it's a lot. She's just elated that people have come out of every corner to be there for her and her family. It's hard to put into words."
Peters said he wants people to know what a kind and caring person Carlson is. He said that along with his family, Carlson's passion is playing football and running on the school's track and field team.
"He's just an incredible kid and he spends a lot of time with his family and his little brother Ashton," Peters explained. "He's always around his family. We just want him to come back home. He's going to need more help to get better, but he's awake and that's all that matters now."