Alvarez suffers partial lung collapse



Coach Montano and Alvarez pose while the soccer team visited him in the hospital.

On Sept. 7, at the Titan Classic soccer tournament, business ran as usual. Until it did not. Within the first 10 minutes of the game, senior Luis Alvarez was pulled out. The team as a whole noticed him tugging at his upper left chest and agreed that he should not continue playing. However, what they thought was a simple chest cramp turned out to be a collapsed lung.

“It felt like my left shoulder was tightening up and it needed to pop but it never did. My chest on my left side felt like a bad chest cramp. Every time I took a deep breath it got worse,” Alvarez said. “I played a little longer because I thought it was just a little cramp and I didn’t expect it to be that bad. I just tried to tough it out. But the pain was increasing so I just sat down on the field.”

Even though the team agreed that Alvarez should not continue playing, everyone at the game was unaware of what was actually happening. After going home and resting for about four hours, Alvarez and his family decided that they needed to go to the emergency room (ER).

“No one was really worried because they thought it was just a cramp. Coach Montano was worried and didn’t want me to go back in unless I felt comfortable. Everyone thought I would be back in, but no,” Alvarez said. “We were driving home on the bus and it was bothering me but I wasn’t supposed to go to the hospital until Monday. But later on that day when I was resting, it just kept getting worse. I just said I couldn’t do it anymore.”

In the search to figure out what was really bothering Alvarez, the ER doctors performed a series of tests on his heart. Some other doctors thought that it could possibly be his asthma. After the heart tests turned up fine, they looked deeper.

“They put things all over my chest to read my heart. They found out it wasn’t my heart so they were checking my lungs and stuff and they told me that my left lung was collapsed 35%. I felt really bad. I was worried about when I would be back for season but I was also like I need to get this fixed, this is really bad,” Alvarez said.

After it was deduced that he had a partially collapsed lung, the ER doctors took immediate action to ensure that it would not get any worse.

“He was put into emergency surgery because it was on the verge of total collapse so they had to put a tube in his chest,” junior Armando Alvarez said.

Alvarez says that he remembers everything until they put the mask on him to knock him out so they could perform the surgery. He also remembers post surgery, though he was drugged up and felt that he could not control himself. While in this state, Alvarez had some fun with the people visiting him post-surgery.

“He was making fun of me a whole lot. He was confused about everything going on around him,” Armando said.

The tube in Alvarez’s chest stayed there during his entire 9 day hospital stay. This tube was used to support his lung in case of another collapse.

“I woke up and I had this big tube in my chest. If it did collapse again, they would just pump oxygen and stuff into the lung to make the lung inflate. But when they took it out it automatically felt better.I still have a bruise from my chest to my lower stomach,” Alvarez said.

While in the hospital, Alvarez was rarely alone. His family, friends and teammates all visited him often.

“My family was there everyday, my girlfriend was there everyday. My teammates would come after practice and then stay until 9 or 10. It made me feel really good because first off, it was boring in there, but it opened my eyes and showed that these people really care for me and they chose to come see me and check up on me. It made me feel really good that all my friends and family came and saw me on the daily,” Alvarez said.

While he was in the hospital, one of his teammates made shirts in support of Alvarez. These shirts were given to his family and teammates.

“It says ‘Be strong Luis, we are with you’. A friend of mine, Alex Sanchez, made the shirts because he saw that Huicho was struggling,” Armando said.

Currently, Alvarez is still in recovery. The doctors told him that recovery will last two to ten weeks. Alvarez still has hopes of recovering in time to finish his last season of high school soccer.