During Tuesday morning’s Northwest Whitfield football practice, junior Seth Vineyard was involved in a “solid collision” with a defender, but finished practice with no apparent ill effects.

Approximately four hours later, Vineyard was in the Hamilton Medical Center intensive care unit with a kidney injury normally seen on patients involved in “serious car wrecks,” according to Jeff Vineyard, Seth’s father.

“The first words out of his mouth when he got home were, ‘I have to see a doctor,’” Jeff said. “We went right to the hospital. Luckily I was home. I work for the city, four days on, four days off. That was my first day off.”

The Vineyards arrived at the hospital around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. After X-rays and a series of CT scans, doctors put Seth in the ICU and Dr. Rick Fromm informed Jeff and his wife Jill that their son had suffered a ruptured right kidney.

“A urologist who came in with Dr. Fromm told me he doesn’t see this type of injury in football,” Jeff said during a telephone interview Thursday from his son’s hospital room. “He sees it in serious car wrecks.

“Seth bled out almost two liters of blood, so much that it pushed his kidney and liver forward against his stomach down toward the pelvic area. That’s where all the pain was coming from.”

On Thursday, Jeff said his son had showed significant improvement.

“The doctors originally thought the kidney would have to be removed,” he said. “They decided to wait.”

Jeff Vineyard said Seth’s hemoglobin count, which should have been around 12, was at 9.7 when doctors first examined him. The count steadily dropped to 8.3 prior to another round of tests Thursday morning. By 8:30 p.m., the count had risen to 8.9.

Jeff Vineyard said doctors told him that a hemoglobin count of 6 “was a sign” his son would have bled to death.

“But right now, he’s doing great,” the father said, pausing to take deep breaths. “His vitals are excellent because he’s in such good physical shape. But he’s got a morphine pump in case he needs it. He used it 14 times previously, but just one time today, and he’s in a private room now.”

The 16-year-old Vineyard is one of the more versatile players on the Bruins’ football squad.

Coach Mike Falleur has been working Vineyard at quarterback, receiver and safety. He was practicing at receiver when the incident occurred.

“The ball was thrown a little high to him,” Falleur said. “Like most good players, Seth went up to catch the ball. And like most good players, the defender broke on the ball and they had a pretty good collision.”

Falleur said trainer Phil Heywood quickly got to Vineyard and examined him on the field.

“He was fine, got up and everything was OK,” Falleur said. “It was like he got the breath knocked out of him. When he left he was laughing and in a good mood. Later in the day is when everything started happening.”

If he continues to improve, Jeff said his son could be released from the hospital and return home in a few days. Vineyard’s football career, however, is on hold for now.

“We haven’t even discussed that,” Falleur said. “We just want to get him past this point and be sure he’s going to be OK. We want him to get well.”

Falleur said other players will have to “step up” and fill in for Vineyard. Dean Haynes, Zack Keeter and Chad Keeter also are working at quarterback. Spencer Bragg, Nate Woodason and Jordan Darnell also play safety. Darnell and Vineyard were battling for a starting job at receiver.

“They were right together as first-team guys,” Falleur said. “Seth is very important to our football team. What happened is unfortunate for him and us, but more so for him because of the seriousness of the injury. We’ll have to have the other guys fill his roles.

“It’s going to be several weeks, at a minimum, before Seth is released to do a whole lot of anything. Right now football is not in the equation.”

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