Boy, 14, who survived a STROKE was told he would never walk, talk or eat again - but just two months later he's doing all three

December 10, 2018  19:27

A 14-year-old boy who suffered a shock stroke was told he would never be able to walk, talk or eat again - but he has proved doctors wrong by doing all three.

Joseph Long, of Phoenix, Arizona, was at home with his four sisters and aunt, while his mother was out picking them up a takeout dinner on September 28. 

But shortly before she got back, Joseph came downstairs from his room, said he wasn't feeling well, then immediately passed out. 

He came to, then vomited and passed out again. 

They called 911, and he was rushed to hospital.  

The staff stabilized Joseph's condition and he was airlifted to their local children's hospital where the on-call doctor suspected he'd had a stroke triggered by a brain aneurysm.

Despite six hours of surgery, doctors said the damage was so great that Joseph would be disabled for life. 

But against the odds, the spritely teen is now walking, talking and eating.  

'I felt numb, like the entire universe was closing around me,' Joseph's mother, Kc Nicole Long, 35, said. 

'My children and I have experienced a lot of death over the last few years and I just remember begging that they would save my son.

'Prior to this incident, I was a self-proclaimed atheist, however, the second I sat down for that ambulance ride, the first thing I did was ask God to please not take him from me.'

While in the ambulance, Joseph started to crash and the paramedics began performing CPR. They took him to the closest hospital they could find only to get there and be told that they were not equipped to treat a child.

The staff stabilized Joseph and said he would be airlifted to the local children's hospital. 

The doctor on-call said she suspected a brain bleed and asked Nicole to hug her son prior to departure in case he didn't make the helicopter ride.

'I kindly declined and told her that I would not submit to defeat and that I knew my son was going to make it there,' Kc said. 

'My fiancé drove so fast, we beat the helicopter to the children's hospital. We waited there for what seemed an eternity but in reality, it was about fifteen minutes.

The director of neurosurgery came into the room and confirmed everyone's suspicions. Not only did Joseph suffer a brain bleed, but it was both inter-cranial, inter-ventricular and it was so 'massive', the bleed caused his brain to swell and was putting a tremendous amount of pressure on his spinal cord.

Once consents were signed, Joseph was taken back for a six-hour surgery to evacuate the bleed and clip the aneurysm.

'It was the longest six hours of my life,' Kc said. 

'I think I was in shock because my brain could not fully process what was happening.'

Surgeons discovered Joseph had an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) - a clump of arteries and veins - lodged in his brain, which they suspect he was born with.

It hadn't caused any issues until that point. But it seems the blood vessel walls weakened, triggering a stroke. 

Blood is a toxin to the brain. As it seeped through the weak blood vessel walls it damaged parts of his cerebellum (the brain region that coordinates movement and muscles).

'I didn't find out about his stroke until the next day,' Kc said. 'At the time I was being told, I was having an extremely hard time understanding all of the medical jargon.

'I really was just relieved that my son had survived his surgery and that we were focused on his survival while in pediatric ICU.'

Aneurysms can grow in any blood vessel in the body, however, the two most common places are: the abdominal aorta (the artery that transports blood away from the heart to the rest of the body) and the brain.

If the brain aneurysm bursts, it can cause obvious symptoms such as; a sudden agonising, or 'thunderclap' headache, a stiff neck, sickness and vomiting, and pain when looking at light.

Around three in five people who have a subarachnoid haemorrhage die within two weeks. Half of those people who survive are left with severe brain damage and disability.

Joseph defied the odds when he bounced back quickly after suffering the stroke.

'The expectation was that Joseph would survive but none of his doctors thought he'd be able to walk, talk, eat on his own,' Kc said.

'He is now able to do all of these things and every person that has seen his recovery has said that it has been miraculous.

'He is doing everything we were told he wouldn't, and he is doing it in a very short period of time. The comment that stands out the most to me is that Joseph was determined he was going to survive, and not only did he survive, he proved everyone wrong.

'Everyone has just been in awe at his recovery. We plan to travel and see things he hasn't had the opportunity to see and to live life to the fullest.

'My advice to anyone going through this is to breathe and trust their medical team. I feel like I held my breath this entire ordeal and I questioned every single thing with little trust and faith but the fact of the matter is that he was in good hands the entire time.' 

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