Orange High School freshman Thys Oldenburg is slowly regaining consciousness after suffering a hard hit on the football field on Oct. 12, 2017. His aunt said Nov. 3 that he has been stepped-down from intensive care and is breathing on his own. Cheri Bowers Submitted
Orange High School freshman Thys Oldenburg is slowly regaining consciousness after suffering a hard hit on the football field on Oct. 12, 2017. His aunt said Nov. 3 that he has been stepped-down from intensive care and is breathing on his own. Cheri Bowers Submitted

Orange County

14-year-old Orange High football player in induced coma said to be improving

By Tammy Grubb

tgrubb@heraldsun.com

November 03, 2017 01:59 PM

UPDATED November 03, 2017 04:58 PM

HILLSBOROUGH

An Orange High School football player’s family got some good news this week after three weeks in a Duke University Hospital pediatric intensive-care unit.

Thys Oldenburg, 14, was injured Oct. 12 in a junior varsity game against Hillside High School. He underwent three emergency surgeries for a head injury at Duke and was placed in a medically-induced coma.

On Thursday, Oldenburg was moved out of ICU to an intermediate care unit, said his aunt, Cheri Bowers. He is slowly regaining consciousness and is breathing on his own, she said.

His family is limiting comments about Oldenburg’s medical condition, Bowers said, because they want to maintain some privacy for him.

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“He’s stabilized. We’re just really grateful for that,” she said. “It’s going to be a long road for recovery. We know that, but we’re a prayerful family and we need lots of prayers still.”

Oldenburg’s parents have hardly left his side since the accident, and the family is “trying to stay optimistic and hopeful,” she said.

The Orange High School community, opposing football teams, and other supporters have rallied around the family since the ordeal began, holding a prayer vigil and fundraisers to help the family with medical costs. Donations also are being accepted through the GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/help-thys.

North Carolina public high schools also are required to enroll their student-athletes in the Student-Athlete Catastrophic Accident Insurance Program, which provides coverage from $25,000 up to $5 million.

The GoFundMe page has raised nearly $26,000 of its $100,000 goal. Oldenburg’s aunt Caroline Oldenburg, who set up the page, has said the donations will be deposited into a fund for “the next kid who this happens to,” if her nephew “wakes up out of this coma and is fine.”

Thys is one of at least four local athletes who have been injured this season, including Orange’s senior running back Marvante Beasley, who was carried from the field during an Oct. 13 game against Hillside. He was treated and released from the hospital the next morning.

On Oct. 27, Hillside High School football player Corey Mitchell was treated at UNC Hospitals for a concussion during a game against Pittsboro’s Northwood High School. Orange High’s Payton Wilson also left a game with Cedar Ridge that night after tearing his ACL. His father said Wilson, who has committed to play next year at North Carolina, may be out for six months.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb