RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Since she was six years old, Caroline Lewis has played soccer, with the overwhelming majority of that time spent in net as a goalkeeper. Throughout her career, she had avoided many of the common injuries and ailments fellow keepers experience, but what happened Wednesday was far from typical.
Lewis, a senior, stars for the Millbrook High soccer team.
During their game against Broughton on Wednesday, her head accidentally collided with an opponent's knee. At first, her dad, John Lewis, thought his daughter had the wind knocked out of her. But when a doctor from the Broughton stands examined her closer, she motioned to call 911.
"When I heard '911', I sprinted, because I knew something was wrong," said John, describing the collision as "one-in-a-million."
Paramedics rushed to the field and transported Caroline to WakeMed, where doctors ran a series of tests to learn more about her condition.
"Her eyes were rolled up back in her head, and quite frankly I thought she was gone," Lewis recalled after initially seeing his daughter on the field.
Caroline suffered four skull fractures, and her right eye was shut, leading to fears from her father that she was going to lose it. The news got even more frightening, when doctors reviewed brain scans.
"She had bleeding on the brain. It's pretty severe for this type of injury," John said.
If doctors found any irregularities with a follow-up scan, they would need to perform surgery, a daunting possibility in such a short period of time.
Thankfully, that would not be necessary, as a specialist reviewing the scans the following morning found Lewis was making progress.
While the injuries themselves are grueling, Caroline had to initially face them without the aid of any pain medicine--which is standard procedure when evaluating potential brain injuries.
Over the past 48 hours, Lewis has continued to progress, even in good enough to spirits to take visitors on Friday, her 18th birthday.
Caroline moved out of the ICU Saturday afternoon
While all of this was taking place, a supporter set up a fundraising page to assist the family.
"We're almost speechless as a family. I had no idea this was going on," said Lewis.
Over three days, it has raised more than $7,000, including from opponents and their families. The fundraising page also includes comments, with donors writing what schools they attend.
"We're just very grateful for it, especially from all the schools. That's just been great," explained Lewis, noting this shows the positive side of social media.
They are hopeful Caroline can leave the hospital shortly, and continue her recovery from home.
John Lewis explained he typically tapes every game, but skipped Wednesday night, thinking he had several more opportunities left in the season. While that won't happen, the family is grateful for the work of paramedics and hospital staff in treating Caroline.
"Everybody that's been involved, from the EMT's all the way up to the neurosurgeon and everybody in between in the ICU, has been unbelievable. Until you need something like this, you don't know how lucky you are. And it's just been unbelievable care from everybody. And we've been really fortunate. We thought had we been in a remote area, the outcome might have been different," Lewis said.
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Millbrook High senior out of ICU following soccer game collision