MORGAN — Jamesen Burraston felt like he couldn’t breathe.
He felt sick while playing for Morgan High’s football team against Summit Academy on Sept. 20.
Burraston took some hits in the ribs, so he figured he had broken ribs or bruised ribs. But the weeks and games went on.
“I was just like, ‘What’s wrong with me?,’” he said.
After the first South Summit game, doctors thought he had asthma so they gave him an inhaler, which didn’t remedy the situation. Burraston didn’t feel better the next week against Grantsville.
“I used my inhaler and it never worked. And that game was just kicking my trash. I wasn’t able to breathe, I couldn’t focus because I couldn’t breathe, kind of freaking out and thought maybe I was in a hurry and didn’t use my inhaler right,” he said after football practice at MHS on Wednesday.
The following Monday at practice, he again couldn’t breathe. The ensuing doctor visit finally revealed the answer, a much scarier ailment that wasn’t a broken rib, bruised rib or asthma.
Blood clots. One in each of his lungs and another one behind his knee.
Doctors kept him in the hospital for a couple days, put Burraston on blood thinners and told him he was done with football for the rest of the season — and maybe for the rest of his life.
Just like that, the senior defensive tackle and anchor of one of the state’s best defenses was on the sidelines.
“I was kind of shocked at first because they said I’m going to the hospital and so I was terrified because, you know, it was going to be the first round of the playoffs and I was mad because I wouldn’t be able to play — and then to find out, ‘Yeah you’re not going to play the rest of the season,’ really killed me,” Burraston said. “It took me awhile, probably like and hour or two to figure things out.”
Once the emotions sorted themselves out and people started to visit him in the hospital and talk to him, Burraston came to the point where he’s now grateful for being alive at all.
Sure, the doctors told him football wasn’t in the cards anymore, but life is still in the cards.
“There’s a thousand things that went through my head, but most of all it was just grateful that I’m still here and being able to be there,” Burraston said.
“When I first heard about, it I didn’t know how serious it was,” senior Dexter Gilson said. “I was immediately like, ‘Ah dang it, now he’s not gonna be playing with us anymore.’ And then I looked it up on my phone and stuff in class and it was like, he could’ve died. I’m just happy he’s alive.”
The causes of blood clots — called pulmonary embolisms — can vary.
The Mayo Clinic, a renowned medical research facility based in Minnesota, writes on its website that blood clots can be caused “by an injury or it can sometimes happen inside blood vessels that don’t have an obvious injury.”
Blood clots themselves can result in all types of issues, including death.
Burraston’s doctors have told him they don’t know what specifically caused his blood clots, but they told him how luck he was that he was alive at all.
“There’s more to life than football. All the coaches that I’ve talked to, everyone who came to visit me, that was a common theme was just, there’s more to life than football,” Burraston said.
Two years ago, Burraston’s father, Gary, died. On every one of the Morgan High football players’ helmets are three stickers, all of which honor a deceased parent of one of the players.
The sticker with the initials ‘GB’ represents Gary Burraston.
“Football isn’t everything. Life is precious and you never know when — and they know that with all they’ve gone through,” Morgan head coach Kovi Christiansen said.
Burraston has received a ton of support from family and friends. When he first went to the hospital, he Facetimed his two younger siblings to let them know what was going on.
“My brother, that I’ve been lucky to play with this year, the very first thing he asked was, ‘Is he going to be able to play football?’ just because he knows that’s what I care about. Just being able to see the love from those two really means a lot to me,” Burraston said.