Nate Dowie eyes graduation May 16 – but he must tackle another surgery in a few weeks.
The former Hilliard Flashes quarterback is still recovering from trachea issues related to surgery for two brain bleeds he suffered during the 2019 season’s first home football game Aug. 23.
Dowie faces additional surgery April 3 in Gainesville to correct issues with his trachea. Unable to speak, he utilizes a feeding tube for nutrition.
“As far as the brain injury goes, it seems to be looking good,” Dad Sean Dowie said March 7. “And we haven’t noticed anything different with it.”
Dowie’s breathing problems began when he had issues when a tube was removed from his airway following surgery in August.
“He’s just been through a big process with that,” his dad said. “They’ve tried steroids and other treatments.”
When Dowie again experienced breathing problems that September, he went back to the hospital. He has returned a few more times to receive treatment for the trachea, but scar tissue keeps developing in that area.
If the upcoming surgery is successful, it should only take about two weeks to recover. If it isn’t, additional surgery could be necessary.
Dowie receives school instruction from the school district’s homebound program. He’s finishing up work to complete two credits before graduation.
Dowie texted his thoughts on his cell phone while reflecting on past events and contemplating his future. He recalls the moments when he suffered injuries in the first and fourth quarters of the game that night.
“I had a concussion at the start of the game, but I ignored it,” he wrote, adding that it happened, “Probably when I did the flip into the end zone.”
In the final play of the game, an Oak Hill opponent fell on Dowie’s head as they both did a drop and roll while Dowie hung onto the other player’s midsection. Soon afterward, he began feeling nauseated as he walked back to the locker room with his teammates.
“It was kind of obvious, because I was stumbling and I couldn’t walk in a straight line by myself,” Dowie recalled via text. “They didn’t say much until I got into the locker room with the coaches.”
After Coach John Pate saw Dowie vomit into a trashcan, the coach started concussion protocol, notifying family and alerting emergency personnel so that Dowie could be transported to the hospital.
Because of the experience, Dowie has stopped playing contact sports. He will instead turn to weightlifting and bodybuilding. He would also like to become a physical therapist.
“I was looking into it before the accident, but when all this happened, it just motivated me to do it even more,” he noted.
Dowie hopes that he can be a role model to others.
“Just everything I’ve been through, I feel like people look up to me for how strong I’ve been with my family through all this,” he texted.
A GoFundMe account has been established to assist the family with the next phase of hospitalization. The community has already donated thousands toward his medical expenses.
His dad said that funds would assist with associated insurance deductibles, travel and hotel expenses for his son’s upcoming surgery.