Gwinnett student given ice for injury at school undergoes life-saving surgery

The 10th grader was playing soccer, during gym class at Berkmar High, when he fell on the goalkeeper’s knee.
The 10th grader was playing soccer, during gym class, at Berkmar High when he fell on the goalkeeper’s knee.
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 5:51 PM EDT
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LILBURN, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The mother of a Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) student claims school officials put her son’s life at risk by not giving him proper care.

15-year-old Lizandro Cabrera won’t soon forget the excruciating pain he felt two weeks ago during gym class at Berkmar High School in Lilburn.

“They tried to stand me up and I couldn’t stand up,” Lizandro said. “It was a lot of pain. I couldn’t breathe.”

The 10th grader was playing soccer with classmates when he fell on the goalkeeper’s knee. Lizandro said he went to the school nurse and told her what happened. He said she gave him an ice pack and sent him back to class. By the time the teen got home, he could barely move.

“It was just very bad,” Lizandro recalled. “It was like something was poking me.”

Lizandro’s mom rushed him to the hospital where doctors found he had a fractured rib that punctured his kidney – causing internal bleeding.

“I was losing a lot of blood,” Lizandro said. “They told me I could’ve died.”

Lizandro underwent a three-hour surgery and was hospitalized for a week. He’s now back home recovering. However, his mother, Luz Cabrera, is still frustrated with the school. She said no one ever called to let her know her son visited the nurse.

“They should’ve called an ambulance and checked on him at the school,” she said. “I was powerless when doctors told me what was wrong. How can we trust the safety of our kids if this can happen at school?”

GCPS couldn’t comment specifically on the incident, citing student privacy laws. However, a spokesperson wrote the following in a statement:

“…the hearts and thoughts of students and staff at Berkmar High School are with the young who was injured, and they wish him a speedy recovery. GCPS takes the health and safety of each and every student very seriously.

When students are not feeling well at school, they are encouraged to visit the school clinic and explain what is wrong. At that point, a trained staff member, typically a clinic worker, will determine the next steps, up to and including calling 911.

If a student’s health or safety is ever in question, parents are contacted to discuss concerns. If a student does not share information about how they are feeling with the clinic worker, he or she may not have the opportunity to receive the appropriate care and/or parental notification.”

Lizandro is expected to make a full recovery and be back at school in about two weeks. His mother, who shared their story so other parents in the district are aware, said she’s considering taking legal action. She was fired from her job because she had to care for her son and has since started a fundraising campaign to help cover her finances until she finds other work.