By Liana Jacob
MEET THE brave boy who suffered a stroke due to a MASSIVE brain bleed and was told he would never be able to walk, talk or eat again but has PROVED DOCTORS WRONG by doing all three.
Director and mum-of-five, Kc Nicole Long (35), from Phoenix, Arizona, USA, was picking up a takeaway for her family on September 28, 2018, when she received a call from her fiancé’s sister who said that her son, Joseph (14), had passed out, prompting her to rush over there.
When they were five minutes away from their house, they received a second call from one of her daughters who alarmingly told them that Joseph had thrown up and was in and out of consciousness. They rushed Joseph to the nearest hospital, where the doctors told them they weren’t equipped to treat a child.
The staff stabilised Joseph’s condition and he was airlifted to their local children’s hospital where the on-call doctor suspected he had a brain bleed. Within an hour of being there, their fears were confirmed that Joseph had suffered a brain aneurysm, a bulge in a blood vessel caused by weakness in the blood vessel wall; this was caused as a result of an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) they suspect Joseph was born with.
Joseph was taken in for a six-hour surgery to fill the aneurysm with tiny metal coils or an open operation to seal it shut with a small metal clip. However, the next day, Kc found out that Joseph’s brain bleed caused him to suffer a haemorrhagic stroke in his cerebellum.
Doctors, who now call his case ‘miraculous’, predicted that Joseph would never walk, talk or eat again. Despite this, Joseph is now getting back on his feet faster than they expected.
“I’d just gotten home from work and everything seemed fine, so I asked Joseph to work on his chores while my fiancé and I went to pick up dinner for the family,” Kc said.
“While we were paying for our order, I received a call from my fiancé’s sister, who said Joseph came downstairs and said he wasn’t feeling well, that he’d passed out, so we rushed out.
“We were about five minutes away from home when we received a second call; this time from my daughter in a panic saying that Joseph had thrown up and was in and out of consciousness.
“We pulled up, I ran inside and when I saw my son, I immediately dialled 911, I knew something was devastatingly wrong.
“I felt numb, like the entire universe was closing around me. 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 us 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 stabilised Joseph and told me he would be airlifted to our local children’s hospital. The doctor on-call said she suspected a brain bleed and asked that I hug my son prior to departure in the event 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.
“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 he 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 and I think I was in shock because my brain could not fully process what was happening.
“Joseph’s stroke was a result of his brain bleed; blood is a toxin to the brain and there were parts of his cerebellum (part of the brain) that died due to the amount of blood it was exposed to and the amount of time it was exposed.
“I didn’t find out about his stroke until the next day and 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 paediatric 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.”
Kc is now accepting donations on Go Fund Me to help with Joseph’s medical expenses: https://www.gofundme.com/6iluge8