A high school football player in Pennsylvania needs “a miracle” after collapsing on the field in the middle of a game on Sept. 1, according to his family, who said in a health update on Sept. 3 that the 17-year-old has been in critical condition for more than 36 hours.
Mason Martin, a quarterback for Karns City High School, suffered a “significant brain bleed as well as a collapsed lung,” his family told KDKA-TV.
The matchup between the Karns City Gremlins and Redbank Valley Bulldogs was cut short in the third quarter when referee Mike Vasbinder noticed Martin started to stagger after he received a hit during the game.
Despite the hit, the quarterback continued to play defense without any apparent issue until he left the field for the extra point and then came back for the return kick-off. However, the referee noticed something was off before the play started, prompting him to blow his whistle as Martin collapsed.
“I had to talk to him, and when I asked if he was alright, he told me, ‘no,'” Mr. Vasbinder said, according to the Butler Eagle. “So that’s when I knew something was wrong.”
The game was stopped early and the Redbanks were named the winner as they were leading 35–6 when the incident occurred.
Mr. Vasbinder said the medical emergency led staff members to enforce a series of protocols, including some of which the referee never had to follow in a game before last week’s incident.
“When we saw it got to the point where they were bringing on an ambulance, we talked to Redbank Valley’s coach and Karns City’s coach, who was obviously with his player,” he said. “And we just tried to stay back and keep calm, so things didn’t escalate.”
Martin was taken off the field in a Karns City ambulance before being flown to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh in a STAT MedEvac helicopter, D9Sports.com reported.
His mother, Stacy King Martin, shared an update on her son’s health condition in a statement on social media on Sept. 3, thanking everyone for their love and support.
“Mason remains in critical condition with little change over the last 36 hours,” her message reads. “The truth is we need a miracle. I’m not saying that to sound grim, but to let you know that we need the strength of your prayers.”
“No one believes in this kid more than us, but he needs everyone’s strength and prayers,” the message continues. “Right now, we have to wait for the swelling to go down to assess the extent of the damage to the brain. So please pray the way he has always played the game, all out holding nothing back, maybe a little angry, definitely aggressive.”
The Karns City Gremlin Football Program also issued a lengthy statement after the incident, saying the school has counselors available for students and staff who need to talk to someone after witnessing Martin’s serious on-the-field injury.
— Karns City Football (@KC_GremlinFball) September 2, 2023
Brittany Thompson, a spectator who was there with her daughter, said the situation was reminiscent of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s collapse during the Jan. 2 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“We’re not from this school district, but my daughter wanted to come to the game,” Ms. Thompson said, the Butler Eagle reported. “It’s just really scary.”
Mr. Hamlin revealed the official cause of his collapse during a press conference in April, saying he collapsed due to a condition that mostly happens to teenagers playing baseball.
“The diagnosis of what happened to me was basically commotio cordis. It’s a direct blow at a specific point in your heartbeat that causes cardiac arrest,” he explained. “And five to seven seconds later, you fall out.”