Teen who suffered brain injury while playing rugby makes amazing recovery

  • ITV Cymru Wales' sports reporter Matt Southcombe has the story.

Dylan Morgan is an ordinary teenager with an extraordinary story.

Eighteen months ago he was playing for Bargoed under-13s against Monmouth when he took a knock to the head.

Initially he was treated for concussion and showed no symptoms, so he was allowed to continue.

The full-back carried on playing, not making contact with the ball again, but something was awry.

His father, Chris, who is also one of the coaches, noticed his son just "wandering" around the field, not engaged in the game at all.

Then he let a ball-carrier simply run past him and did nothing to prevent a try being scored.

Dylan had passed the concussion test but something was awry Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Dad Chris told ITV Cymru Wales: “I was thinking that's strange and it's not like Dylan. I actually said something that will haunt me because it could have been the last thing I'd ever say to him.

“I said: 'Dylan, listen, if you ain't gonna try then there are boys on the side that want to get on’.

“And he went behind the posts with the boys and he was just wobbling a little bit. So, I went over and spoke to him and he was just looking through me, there was no emotion in his eyes.”

An ambulance was called but Dylan’s condition was deteriorating. He was vomiting and now admits himself that he was struggling to keep his eyes open at times.

Then a chain of events fell into place that would save his life.

First of all, an army medic was on the Monmouth touchline. He came over and asked to assess Dylan. The medic identified that Dylan's condition was worsening at an alarming rate, so they called 999 again to drive home the severity of the situation.

Dylan was initially bound for the Grange Hospital in Cwmbran but one of the medical professionals who attended the scene happened to be a neuro-specialist. The decision was then made to take Dylan straight to specialist care at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

The neurosurgeon who was on-call that day at the Heath also happened to be at the hospital visiting somebody.

Everything fell into place to make sure Dylan received the right care in the right place.

By the time Dylan arrived at the hospital, he no longer had the use of the left side of his body and was put into an induced coma.

Chris was joined by his wife as their son was being prepared for surgery. It had become apparent that Dylan had a bleed on the brain.

The parents were told to prepare for the possibility their son would not survive the four-hour operation.

“After an hour and a half, a nurse came to get us and took us down through the basement of the hospital,” Chris recalls.

“I can remember saying to my wife: ‘he’s gone. He’s died’.

“They told us four hours, and an hour and a half later they’re calling for us. I just felt sick.”

Dylan had an underlying condition called AVM Credit: Family photo

Dylan was still in surgery and his parents were simply being taken to a separate waiting room.

After an agonising wait, his parents learned surgery had gone well. An underlying condition called AVM - which is the tangling of blood vessels in the brain - had caused the bleed.

To relieve the pressure, part of Dylan’s skull was removed and inserted into his abdomen to keep the bone alive, where it stayed for five months before Dylan underwent a second operation to put the bone back.

“It was just a funny feeling," Dylan tells us. "It was just there [in my stomach]. I could play with it, touch it. It was just wild.”

Fast forward to the present day and Dylan is back playing rugby.

Last month, Bargoed faced Monmouth - the same opposition as on the day of the incident - in a charity match at Rodney Parade.

The game was restarted at the same time and score as when it was originally called off.

Dylan is now back doing what he loves Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Chris insists he has no concern over his son going back onto the field now that the AVM has been removed and his skull fused back together.

Dylan will now undergo a scan every year to check that the condition has not returned.

"Most of the parents were in tears because they'd gone through it with us, to be fair,” Chris says of the day his son returned to the field.

“There were a lot of tears and my wife Sarah was in bits when he ran on to the pitch and I tried to be a big man, I suppose.

“I tried to hold it together but I cried on my own. I took myself into one of the changing rooms and I had a little cry.

"It was emotional but I was so proud of him, to come back after 18 months and to run on that pitch and be absolutely fearless."

Reflecting on his decision to play rugby again, Dylan says: “I wanted to prove a point that I could come back and be the same player I was.

“I wanted to prove to everyone that simply an injury doesn’t have to stop you playing sport.”

Had he never kicked a rugby ball again, nobody would have held it against him.

But he’s moving forward, refusing to let the past define his future.

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