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Heatstroke victim Nikolas Visco visited by school football coach

Leif Shay, Riverhead High School football coach, talks about his team's return to practice on Friday, Aug. 21, 2015, while teammate Nikolas Visco remains in the hospital in critical condition from heatstroke suffered during practice on Monday. (Credit: Newsday / Chuck Fadely)

Leif Shay, the head football coach at Riverhead High School for the past 18 years, spent Friday morning at Stony Brook Children's Hospital visiting Nikolas Visco, the junior who suffered heatstroke that led to liver and kidney failure after Monday morning's practice.

A hospital spokesperson said late Friday afternoon that Visco, 16, was still in critical condition.

"I just pray every day for his complete recovery," Shay said. "The last thing you ever want to see is your player, part of your family, injured or sick. I love all my kids here and this has taken a toll on our players and coaches.

"It's going to be a long process but as long as we see positive signs in his numbers every day -- that's a great thing," he said. "The family was in better spirits. We'll be there for them every day as he gets better."

Shay said he continually replays the end of Monday's practice.

"Nikolas seemed fine after doing 10 40-yard sprints at the end of practice and was kneeling with the team before we broke the practice at 10 a.m.," Shay said. "There were no signs of dehydration or illness, nothing. He walked over to one of the coaches and said he didn't feel well . . . He never passed out or lost consciousness. It happened suddenly."

Riverhead Superintendent of Schools Nancy Carney said she was pleased with her coaches' emergency response and care at the field and only thinks of Visco's complete recovery.

"We're very concerned about our student-athlete and his well-being and we're committed to providing assistance in any way that we can," she said. "He has been on all of our minds. It's been very hard for his family and for everyone involved. We're all here to support them."

On Thursday, Dr. Daniel Sloniewsky confirmed the chronology of events, telling Newsday that Visco was taken from football practice by ambulance to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead with a temperature of 108 degrees.

That hospital succeeded in reducing his temperature, and he was then transferred to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he was placed in Sloniewsky's care.

Sloniewsky said Visco had suffered some kidney and liver failure when he got to Stony Brook, and he was placed on dialysis. He was also given medicine to raise his blood pressure. The doctor said he believed Visco would be hospitalized "for weeks."

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