Football injury reveals serious blood disorder
December 9, 2003
On Oct. 25, Richard Butters, 17, of Eagle, a guard, defensive end and kicker for Vail Christian High School’s eight-man football team, thought he was making a routine tackle. What happened next changed his life.
After the game, Richard told his mother, Sharon Bishop, he felt like the wind had been knocked out of him. As a precaution, he was sent to Vail Valley Medical Center, where doctors discovered Richard had a slight crack in his spleen as well as a life-threatening blood disorder that affects blood clotting. After four days in the intensive care unit, Richard was sent home. On Nov. 3, five days after being released, Bishop found her son unconscious on the family room floor. She immediately called her former husband, Jerry (Richard’s father), and the doctor. By the time Jerry arrived at Bishop’s home, Richard had regained consciousness and passed out twice more. Jerry called 911.
“Thank God Jerry was there… I was pretty scared. When the Eagle Fire District guys showed up, they were so good and calming,” said Bishop.
“If my mom wasn’t there that morning, I would have died,” added Richard, who normally lives at his father’s home on the Colorado River Road, but was recovering at Bishop’s home at the time.
Paramedics rushed Richard to the hospital where surgeons discovered that a softball-sized hematoma – essentially a blood-swollen bruise – on an artery leading to Richard’s spleen had burst. Doctors removed the damaged artery, the hematoma and his spleen.
“I feel really blessed and thankful that the Lord let me keep my son. It was pretty close,” said Jerry.
Recommended Stories For You
Since the surgery Richard’s parents have changed their priorities.
“I literally had to let some things go,” said Jerry. “There was no question my son was more important than what had to happen in my business. I was real fortunate that I had a staff that kept the office running. I couldn’t have done it without their support.”
“I feel it has brought us closer together,” said Bishop. “We had an opportunity to reminisce about good times. It’s unfortunate that it took an accident for all of us to spend more time together. It’s a lesson not to take each other for granted.”
The family praised the professionalism and compassion of the medical staff at Vail Valley Medical Center, and expressed thanks for the support of the high school’s staff. Vail Christian High School football coach Bob Isbell met Richard’s parents at the hospital the day of their son’s surgery, and stayed with them until he was out of recovery.
“He wouldn’t leave the hospital. It’s a real testament to him and to the school he represents,” said Butters.
Richard’s teachers have also worked with the family to ensure Richard, a senior, graduates on time, even though he missed three weeks of school. After graduation, Richard is planning to attend San Diego State University. He will wear a medical identification bracelet for the rest of his life, listing his blood disorder and missing spleen.
“It changed me. I am thankful to be alive and to have both of my parents. I have a greater respect for them now,” said Richard.
This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.