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The family of a Canisius High School football player, who has been in a coma in a Watertown hospital since collapsing during a game Sept. 11, had hopes of moving him closer to home as soon as today.

But those hopes were dashed Wednesday when swelling developed in the brain of Chris Cravatta and a procedure to relieve it was scheduled, his father, Robert, reported Wednesday evening from Good Samaritan Hospital, Watertown.

"Up until this morning he was doing well," the father said.

"Now it looks like another seven- to 10-day wait. (Doctors) are worried about him suffering a stroke. He's gone from a deep coma to a light coma but he's still not responding. His eyes are open, but he's not focusing.

"We're waiting for him to snap out of it and start speaking."

Chris, a junior at Canisius, was listed in stable condition.

He suffered a blood clot to the brain during the game, but it is not certain the injury was due to being hit during the game, his father said.

Cravatta said he was told that a review of the game film does not show his son, who plays both running back and linebacker, being hit in the head.

Chris was on the sidelines at the start of the third quarter in the game against Watertown High School and complained to the trainer that he did not feel well, then vomited and lost consciousness.

He was rushed to the hospital where emergency surgery was performed to remove the blood clot.

The hospital called his Town of Tonawanda home and Cravatta and his wife Michelle immediately drove to Watertown and have been there ever since. Chris's brother, Robert Jr., took leave from the Air Force in Wyoming to join them, and other friends and family members have joined the vigil at various times.

"The doctors told us that considering his age (16) and good physical condition, they don't see any reason why he can't make a complete recovery over time," Cravatta said.

Doctors recommended vocal stimulation to bring him out of the coma and the family has been talking and reading to him -- especially the sports pages -- almost constantly. They have been trying to get him to grasp a football signed by his teammates, so far without success. "But he's a good, determined kid," his father said. "He can persevere."

The possibility was being discussed of moving Chris as soon as today to the Head Trauma Rehabilitation Unit at Our Lady of Victory Hospital in Lackawanna, where he faces a long road back. But now that has been put on hold while he copes with the setback.

Friends and family have established a fund to help meet medical and rehabilitation expenses, which are certain to be considerable despite insurance. Donations can be sent to the Chris Cravatta Fund, 1 HSBC Center, Lobby Level, Buffalo, 14203.

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