The Fortuna High School football player who began having seizures on the sideline near the end of a game Friday night at Cardinal Newman suffered a stroke and on Monday was placed in a medically-induced coma for a second time, according to his mother.
Tara Johnson of Fortuna said after seeing an MRI taken Sunday she was unclear whether 17-year-old Bailey Foley’s stroke occurred during the football game or as a result of complications afterward.
“How does a 17-year-old have a stroke?” she asked Monday, adding that her son had never had any seizures before. “Did (the game) cause this to happen or (is it) a result of what happened?”
After reviewing game film, neither head coach could find a play or series of plays that could have injured Foley. Neither found anything that looked traumatic, both said. It’s an important distinction at a time when there is an increasing focus on some of the dangers associated with football, particularly repeated blows to the head.
Foley, a 5-foot-11-inch, 180-pound senior who plays both running back and linebacker, was in the final moments of Fortuna’s 41-18 loss to Cardinal Newman when he came to the Huskies’ sideline complaining of cramps and began having seizures.
He was taken by ambulance after the game to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital where doctors found bleeding in his brain, an indication of a possible traumatic head injury. He was put into a medically induced coma and a portion of his skull was removed. Tubes were inserted into his head to alleviate swelling in his brain.
Doctors began bringing him out of sedation Sunday to begin assessing any damage, but stopped when he developed a fever and showed signs of pneumonia. Foley was having trouble coughing, according to his mother, so a decision was made to put him back into a coma. She said the fever broke Monday.
Johnson and Bailey's father, Sage Foley, had been listening to the game on the radio when their son’s injury was announced. Fortuna head coach Mike Benbow called the parents and then rode in the ambulance with Bailey.
Johnson started the 200-mile drive from Fortuna to Santa Rosa on Friday night initially believing her son might have suffered heat stroke until a doctor reached her by phone when she was halfway to Santa Rosa and indicated the seriousness of his condition.
Sunday, she saw her son open one eye when the medications were wearing off.
“He opened it, I would say at least halfway,” she said. “His eye was kind of rolled back a little bit. It was him. It gives you hope. Any time you see any part of him moving, it’s hopeful.”
In the brief window when Foley was not sedated, doctors ran a series of tests to help assess his reactions, Johnson said.
“I guess they pinch him and twist on him pretty good,” she said. “The only part of him that he’s not moving is his right leg.”
But those tests ended when Foley developed a fever and doctors suspected pneumonia. He had to be put back under sedation at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Johnson said.
Johnson expects the real answers to come when doctors again try to bring Foley out of the coma Tuesday.