New Castle News


September 15, 2012

‘God was watching over him’: Derrick Burns is finding a way to adjust to life without football



A second ambulance crew had to be called out because one of the first ambulance attendants was injured when Derrick’s flailing arms hit him in the face.

“The attendants had to sit on him to keep him down. He kept telling them, ‘OK, I’m calm now,’ and as soon as they got up off of him, he started going crazy again. They gave him a double dose of a sedative to try and calm him down and he was still delirious, so they had to give him another double dose.”

In a strange twist of irony, one of the ambulance attendants in the second crew to arrive was Clint DeRosa’s brother, Luke.

Derrick was rushed back to Horizon, where it was determined he had two massive blood clots in his nasal cavity. He was flown by medical helicopter to Presbyterian.

“We weren’t allowed to go in the helicopter, we had to drive and it was the longest drive of my life,” Cindy said. “The helicopter flew over us while we were driving and we didn’t know if he was dead or alive in there. I prayed like crazy. I have never been so scared or felt so helpless.”

Doctors were preparing Derrick for surgery when the family arrived, but they were told the surgery was risky and that he had only a 50-50 chance of surviving it.

“A neurosurgeon came in and said Derrick had suffered a stroke and that he had a clot the size of a quarter on his brain,” Cindy said. “He said he was concerned that the surgery was too risky and said he felt Derrick’s chances were better if they tried Heparin first to thin the blood.”

It was a decision that probably saved the young man’s life.

Cindy kept vigil by Derrick’s bedside as the night went on and was buoyed by a massive prayer chain that was ongoing in New Wilmington, which included Tina DeRosa, the mother of Clint. Going in and out of consciousness but extremely dehydrated, Derrick kept begging for a drink of water or some ice chips, but he was not permitted to have it.

Test results revealed that the debilitating headaches were caused by severe dehydration. Doctors also learned that Derrick carries the Factor V gene, an inherited blood clotting disorder, along with lupus anticoagulant syndrome, an autoimmune disease, which caused a perfect storm that led to the stroke.

Derrick, who is white, black and Indian, along with his half-brother Chris, 22, and sisters Julie, 19, and Mariah, 18, all were adopted by the Burns family. Youngest brother Daniel, 16, is a biological son. Chris is a member of the University of Massachusetts football team, while Julie and Mariah are students at Slippery Rock University and Daniel is a junior at Wilmington High.

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