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Football player, 15, makes a full recovery following two brain surgeries


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A 15-year-old Salisbury football player has undergone two emergency brain surgeries in just the last month.

It started as a migraine mystery, but the teen’s mother was relentless in getting answers.

Channel 9′s Hannah Goetz visited the family in a hospital Thursday and learned the teen has a long road ahead.

De’Drick Hinson’s started having symptoms in the first week of his sophomore year at Salisbury High School.

“My head was just like, hurting,” Hinson said. “The lights (were) like real sensitive. It was making my eyes hurt.”

That was when his mother’s instincts kicked in.

“That’s my baby,” said Stephanie Watkins. “I knew that he was not himself.”

She took him to a local emergency room near Salisbury two days in a row. He was tested for the flu, COVID-19, and pneumonia, which all came back negative.

They told him it was likely allergies or a cold and sent him home.

However, on the third morning, Hinson woke up with swelling in his neck and eye and his mom rushed him to another ER demanding more tests, which showed an infection.

“CT scan showed that he had an infection in his right eye, which caused the swelling,” Watkins said. “And that thrombosis of the right jugular vein, which is blood clots, and said he had infection behind his eye. So, from that, they did an MRI. The MRI showed that he had fluid on both sides of his brain.”

That diagnosis brought them to Levine Children’s Hospital and Hinson needed brain surgery.

“It was a lot,” the mother said. “Yeah, it was a lot. I wasn’t expecting that. I knew something was wrong with him. But to get that kind of news, like brain surgery was like, ‘Whoa, like we’re not prepared for this.’”

The surgery was a success but a few days later, the infection got worse, and his brain was swelling again. He was rushed in for another emergency brain surgery.

“I just fell to the floor,” Watkins said. “And I prayed, and I talked to God.”

Her prayers were answered.

Hinson is now a few weeks into what is expected to be a long recovery.

“He’s proven to the world that he can make it and he can overcome,” Watkins said.

Despite being off the field, Hinson’s teammates are bringing him to every game by having his initials and number on their helmets.

“It made me feel good,” he said. “We ain’t lost yet.”

Hinson returned home Thursday after being in the hospital for a month.

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Hannah Goetz

Hannah Goetz, wsoctv.com

VIDEO: 15-year-old football player recovers after 2 brain surgeries | WSOC-TV
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Hannah is a reporter for WSOC-TV.

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