Thys Oldenburg will get to spend Thanksgiving with his family.
The Orange High School football player, who was put in a medically induced coma after taking a hard hit during an Oct. 12 junior varsity game against Hillside High School, is awake now, his aunt Cheri Bowers said Monday.
Although he still has to take small bites, Oldenburg will be able to eat Thanksgiving dinner, she said. The family celebrated his 15th birthday last week.
“He can take a few steps and is saying a few words softly,” Bowers said. “His mom Jan’s prayer is that he is home for Christmas, and doctors say that is likely. We have so much to be thankful for this week.”
Oldenburg underwent three emergency surgeries for a head injury at Duke University Hospital and spent three weeks in a the pediatric intensive-care unit before being moved to intermediate care Nov. 2. He was recently transferred to Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, which specializes in children’s recovery.
Bowers has said the family is limiting comments about Oldenburg’s medical condition, because they want to maintain some privacy for him.
His parents have hardly left his side since the accident, she said.
Oldenburg’s condition has rallied supporters at Orange High School, on opposing football teams, and in the community, who held a prayer vigil and fundraisers to help with the medical costs. The family has set up a donation page at GoFundMe.com.
Thys was one of at least four local athletes injured this season, including Orange High’s senior running back Marvante Beasley, who was injured during an Oct. 13 game against Hillside.
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.