It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: your child sustains a horrific injury. That was the case for Victor and Mercedes Lystedt when their son Zackery was playing junior high football and sustained a concussion during a game but played the rest of the game.
The Lystedts are referred to by the Brain Injury Alliance of Washington as the First Family of Prevention for the Brain Injury community. Zackery, Victor, and Mercedes join BIAWA Executive Director Deborah Crawley to talk about the events of that day. They also discuss how their advocacy helped pass the Zackery Lystedt Law in Washington State in 2009, as well as concussion laws in all 50 states.
First Family of Brain Injury Prevention
Zackery was a very active athlete, involved in many sports. At age thirteen Zack was showing a lot of skill on the football field, playing both ways: outside linebacker on defense and full back on offense. Zack hit his head while making an offensive tackle near the end of the first half. Zack sat out a few plays, then returned in the second half and played every down. Near the end of the game, Zack was running the ball and went head on with a defensive player.
After the game, Zack was walking with his dad when he started shaking his head and saying over and over that his head hurt. Zack lost consciousness in front of his father. Victor literally clawed and chewed his way through Zack’s jersey in his attempt to get Zack’s pads and gear off of him. Victor said that it seemed like a very long time before the fire trucks and aid units showed up.
“It was the longest time in my life,” Victor Lystedt says.
Where was Mercedes when this happened? She was unable to attend the game and had just gotten off of work. She was driving home when she got a call from Victor. After asking if Zack was allergic to anything, Victor abruptly ended the call. “A friend immediately called and said, ‘You need to get somewhere safe and I am going to come pick you up. They are airlifting Zack to Harborview Hospital.’ And I’m like what do you mean they are airlifting him?!”
Once all had arrived at Harborview, the doctors informed Victor and Mercedes that Zackery was hemorrhaging badly and they had to get in right away to try and stop the bleeding and save Zackery’s life.
Zack knows that sharing their story helps others learn. Listen in to hear the Lystedt’s journey through brain injury and how laughter has helped them get through some of the toughest moments.
CDC – The Lystedt Law: A Concussion Survivor’s Story
CDC Heads Up
The Zackery Lystedt Law – 10-year Anniversary
Washington Interscholastic Activities Association – Concussion Management Guidelines
Brain Injury Alliance of Washington