The holidays are a time when many of us reflect on our blessings. FOX23 found one Green Country family that feels especially blessed this year.
Fourteen-year-old Mason Downs is an athlete, but when he collapsed suddenly four months ago, it had nothing to do with an injury suffered on the basketball court.
"It was just a normal day, he had gone bowling with some friends," Mason's mom Tracy Downs said. "When he came out of the shower, was screaming that his head was hurting."
Then Darrell and Tracy Downs' son Mason, who'd never been seriously ill a day in his life, collapsed right in front of them. They rushed him to St. John Medical Center in Tulsa. By the time they got there, he was unconscious.
A CAT scan was taken of his brain, and it showed a hemorrhage. Things were very serious.
"When the ER doctor finishes and takes the blood off of his brain and says we need to get him lifeflighted to the children's hospital in OKC, we're thinking, that's what you do to really sick kids," Tracy said.
At the children's hospital doctors found what caused the bleeding on Mason's brain. It was an Arteriovenous Malformation, or an AVM, a rare birth defect they had no idea about.
"Never been sick a day in his life," Tracy said. "Never had anything a normal kid doesn't have," Tracy said.
The surgeon in Tulsa opened his skull to drain the blood off and save his life. Specialists in Oklahoma City were able to go up through his groin and seal off his AVM with a special type of glue, avoiding the trauma of another brain surgery.
But the blood pooled on the part of Mason's brain that affects his speech. And he's still fighting to recover from the damage that caused.
"Oh, man it's hard, now because of my brain, I can't really talk as right, going to speech, it's hard every time," Mason said.
Mason and his parents told FOX23 News that his teachers, classmates and especially his teammates have played a huge role in his recovery.
"They're my brothers," Mason said.
"Four of those boys he's played with since kindergarten, two of them were at the hospital that night," Tracy said. "They help him today with his schoolwork, basketball, with words when he has trouble, they help him. People say 'are you scared, are you scared he's going to hurt his head?' there's been a few times, but not really, he's out there doing what he loves. This holiday and every day, we are thankful"
Mason was still in the hospital; on the first day of school. Slowly he's been able to add more classes to his schedule.
His goal is to be attending class all day after Christmas break.