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Prep football player has part of skull removed following on-field injury

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A 16-year-old linebacker on the Dassel-Cokato high school football team is in serious condition after emergency surgery to relieve swelling in his brain.

The Star Tribune reports that Luke Nelson was injured making a tackle as his team played Orono in a Friday night game in Cokato. The injury wasn’t immediately apparent and he remained on the field after the collision until he collapsed. He was unconscious when an ambulance delivered him to a Litchfield hospital and was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center in critical condition. Surgeons there removed the right half of his skull to relieve the swelling and allow his brain to heal.

His hometown newspaper, the Dassel-Cokato Enterprise Dispatch, posted a CaringBridge site for Nelson, whose nickname is Boomer. His parents, Greg and Sara Nelson, wrote on website that the teen was breathing with the help of a ventilator. “Luke is in there. … What a blessing,” his family’s update said.

The Star Tribune reported that Nelson's teammate Tom Halonen watched game film Saturday and said Nelson's collision occurred with four minutes remaining in the game. He said it appeared that Nelson collided with one of Orono’s running backs.

Dassel-Cokato coaches met with Nelson’s teammates Saturday morning to update them on his condition.

The Associated Press reported that the activities director for the Dassel-Cokato district said that Nelson is responding to doctors and family members. He is expected to make a full recovery.

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