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Medics missed stroke symptoms because victim was 13, says mum

By Gerry Warren

A football-mad schoolboy was almost left permanently disabled after suffering a stroke aged just 13.

Isaac Webber was discovered collapsed on the bathroom floor and had medics battling to save his life.

His mum, health worker Melanie, says it was five agonising hours before doctors realised he had suffered a stroke, even though she suspected it from the start.

Isaac Webber, 14, who is recovering from a stroke

Isaac Webber, 14, who is recovering from a stroke

She believes medics missed an early diagnosis because of the rarity of people Isaac’s age suffering strokes.

Melanie, 41, who works with the local NHS respiratory team, described the moment she found Isaac collapsed at their home in Blean last July.

She said: “It was very frightening because he couldn’t move and had a vacant look in his eyes as if to say ‘help me’. Clearly something was terribly wrong.

“His dad Matt dialled 999 while I tried to help lift Isaac off the floor. I have worked on a stroke ward and straight away I thought he had the classic symptoms, including the loss of movement in his arm.”

Isaac was rushed to the William Harvey Hospital and a specialist team came down from King’s Hospital in London, where he was eventually taken.

Initially, a radiologist rejected the idea of an MRI scan, which the family believed would have revealed the cause.

Melanie said: “It was very frustrating and it was only fortunate that the doctor treating Isaac was called away.

Isaac, with mum Melanie

Isaac, with mum Melanie

"Then a nurse, who had the same suspicions as us, called over a passing stroke consultant who immediately ordered the scan which showed a small clot in Isaac’s brain.

“It was only than that they could treat him properly and 15 minutes later he had some movement back in his arm.”

Isaac, who attends Barton Court Grammar School in Canterbury, was then transferred to the Evelina Children’s Hospital, where he spent two weeks recovering with his family at his bedside.

He spent many months convalescing, as his speech was affected, and still needs physiotherapy for his weak arm.

The cause of his stroke was later found to have possibly been a small hole in his heart which he has now had surgery to repair.

Arsenal fan Isaac, who was a top striker with Herne Bay Harriers before his stroke, says he cannot remember much about his collapse and doesn’t like to think about it.

He said: “I was struggling with my speech and my arm for some time and I spent a lot of time shut away in my bedroom because I felt very self conscious.

“I missed about three months of school but Barton Court were very good and gave me a tablet to work with because I was finding it difficult to write.

A stroke in the brain. Picture iStock

A stroke in the brain. Picture: iStock

“I’m back playing football now, although with another team and in defence because I’m not as quick as I was. But I’m getting fitter all the time and hope to get up front again because I love scoring goals.”

Melanie added: “It’s good to have our old cheeky Isaac back, but I still worry every day and get him to text me that he’s OK.”

Melanie and Canterbury College music teacher Matt say they now want to promote awareness of the danger of young people suffering strokes.

"I have worked on a stroke ward and straight away I thought he had the classic symptoms" - Melanie Webber

The couple, who have two other children, Esme, aged 11, and Hattie, three, and live in Chestnut Drive, Blean, have praised the support they received from the Stroke Association.

They are now in training for the Oysterman Triathlon in Whitstable on June 28, through which they are raising money for the charity.

Melanie said: “We are both quite a sporty but haven’t done a triathlon before so it will be quite a challenge.

“The money we raise will go especially to supporting the association’s work on strokes in childhood, which is a very real but not generally known issue, even among some doctors.”

Other family members taking part are Mel’s sister Alicia Brewster and niece Polly Brewster and brother-in-law Simon Georgiou, as well as Isaac’s hairdresser, Zoe Padman, from Cloud Nine in Canterbury.

To support their fundraising effort, visit www.justgiving.com/Melanie-Webber1


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