After brain injury, Hill-Murray football player returns to hospital to thank doctors, community

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Less than three weeks after a Hill-Murray football player collapsed on the sidelines during a playoff game, he is on his way to a full recovery.

Zach Zarembinski was released from the hospital earlier this week. On Friday, however, he returned to Regions Hospital to show gratitude and look toward his future.

The 18-year-old is almost himself again. Walking back into the hospital to share his story, the senior football player posed for pictures with his other team, the doctors and nurses who saved his life.

“I don't remember anything from about two days before the incident, to about ten days after when they had me in the coma and on all the drugs,” Zach Zarembinski said.

His injury set off a chain reaction of prayer, hope, and for Zach, the will to keep fighting.

“It’s unbelievable and I’m just grateful for all the support that I’ve gotten and all the people that have been there for me and contributed to the cause,” Zarembinski said.

When Zach went down on that Saturday in October, he was on the operating table within about 40 minutes.

“Everyone that was there from the trainers, we had a sideline doctor, there was firefighters in the stands, coaches, EMTs, policemen. Everyone from that point, just to have those people there was amazing,” said Zach’s mom, Tracy.

Zach was diagnosed with a massive brain bleed, or hemorrhage. He is still wearing a helmet to protect the area where doctors removed a piece of his skull.

Less than three weeks later, however, Zach is feeling good.

“No pain, no dizziness, unless I'm standing up, but nothing really major, no, it's crazy,” Zach Zarembinski said.

“It's been truly an amazing experience to watch my son go from where he was to where he's at today,” said Zach’s dad, Dan.

Zach will not be able to play contact sports, but his doctors and coaches believe his life will be full as ever.

“It takes months to know what full recovery is, but sitting at the table talking with this young man, I would say he's going to do very well,” said Dr. David Dries, critical care and trauma surgeon at Regions Hospital.

“That part of him, that essence that makes him who he is, is still there. And that was the greatest part,” said Hill-Murray Head Football Coach Pete Bercich.

Zach's doctors have not been able to determine the exact cause of his injury, saying it could have come from a blow to the head, but they just are not sure.

Once he returns to school, Zach is considering throwing for the track team this spring.