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High school football: Orem player responds well to being woken from coma, will undergo heart surgery

Published: Sunday, May 19 2013 11:35 a.m. MDT

Herriman High School plays Orem High School in football in Orem, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Herriman High School plays Orem High School in football in Orem, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

PROVO — Orem High sophomore football player Ben Smith responded positively to being woken up from a medically induced coma Saturday afternoon, and he will next undergo surgery for an underlying heart condition that was discovered after he collapsed during conditioning practice last Thursday.

“They did bring him out of the medically induced coma this afternoon,” Alpine School District spokeswoman Rhonda Bromley said, “and were able to do some tests on him and are feeling very good about the results.”

Details about Smith's specific heart condition have not been released, but based on a conversation with Smith’s parents, Bromley believes the surgery has a high success rate.

“They made it seem that it was something that would happen Monday morning and be done Monday morning,” Bromley explained. “Then they’ll be able to pull the tubes out and he’ll be able to talk to them. Just by the way they were talking it seemed like it’s something they’re feeling very optimistic about.”

Doctors at the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center elected to keep Smith sedated until the surgery to effectively allow his body to recuperate from the stress sustained from the collapse Thursday and to avoid potentially complicating the condition further.

“What they’re wanting to do is keep his body nice and calm,” Bromley said. “Apparently when they brought him out he was reacting to their questions and they knew he was coherent and they did the tests. The words that they used to me is that they’ve sedated him again until the surgery. It doesn’t sound like they’ve had conversations with him.”

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