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Wild pitch critically injures Rocky Mount boy

Eleven-year-old Lee Winstead is in critical condition after surgery to remove a brain clot stemming from a baseball injury Wednesday night.

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GREENVILLE, N.C. — Shortly before his Little League game Wednesday evening, sixth-grader Lee Winstead was sitting just outside the dugout watching the pitcher warm up when he was hit in the head by a wild pitch.

Two days later, the Rocky Mount 11-year-old is in critical condition at Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville, where doctors say he's lucky to still be alive.

They credit his mother, Lori Winstead, with saving his life.

"He didn’t cry or anything. He just kept holding his head and was holding on to me with one arm," she said Friday. "We sat down, got him some ice and he sat there and did very well. He didn’t want to play, he didn’t want to leave, he just wanted to sit there and see if it would go away."

About an hour later, though, he started complaining that his head was hurting even more.

"He began repeating, 'I got to sleep mom. I got to sleep.' I said, 'No, you can't,'" she said Friday. "He let me hold him, which he doesn't let me do because he's a big boy."

That's when, she said, she knew something was seriously wrong. She took him to Nash General Hospital, where he was airlifted to Greenville and rushed into surgery.

"They call us in and tell us that he has a brain hemorrhage and that it's pretty big," Winstead said.

Cases like Lee's are on the rise across the country, according to a study published last year by the American Academy of Pediatrics. That's partly because of an increase in participation of youth leagues.

Children and teenagers are likely to get concussions, and it takes longer for them to heal than it does for adults, experts say.

Despite popular belief, most of these injuries happen without the loss of consciousness. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, confusion, memory loss like forgetting sports plays, nausea or vomiting and lethargy, among others.

Experts say Winstead did the right thing in recognizing her child's injuries and getting him medical attention.

Surgeons had to remove a portion of Lee's skull to remove the clot. Had Winstead waited any longer, the surgeon said, the swelling clot would have killed him.

She hasn't slept since Wednesday, she said, and she is worried about her son.

"I haven't been able to hug my daughter or husband yet, because I'm afraid, if I do, my walls will fall down," Winstead said. "I can't do that. I have to be strong for my baby."

For Lee, his condition has been touch and go. Winstead said he had a bad night Thursday.

"Then, this morning, he rolls over, and he opens his eyes on his own, without command, and said, 'I’m hungry, and I'm thirsty,'" she said.

But Lee is still not clear yet. He could still have brain swelling or other complications from the surgery.

"God has given us some blessings, and we’re getting there hour by hour, minute by minute, but that’s how it is up here," Winstead said.

"We have a long road ahead of us. We're not exactly sure what is ahead of us yet."


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