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Teen from Rochester suffered stroke after waking with a headache

A “healthy” teenager who woke up with a headache was fighting for his life in a specialist hospital just hours later.

Rhys Foskett from Rochester collapsed after having a stroke and ended up needing life-saving surgery to remove part of his skull.

Rhys with his girlfriend Ruby Evans. Picture: Anette Foskett
Rhys with his girlfriend Ruby Evans. Picture: Anette Foskett

The 18-year-old’s close-knit family feared the worst after the young plumber was placed in intensive care in an induced coma as experts tried desperately to stabilise him.

His distraught mum Annette Foskett said: “You would never in a million years think your 18-year-old son, up to then a healthy lad, would have a stroke. We keep asking the doctors, but they don’t yet know why.

“They have statistics for men having a stroke aged between 60 and 90, but said it was very rare in somebody so young.”

Rhys is likely to have permanent brain damage and is having to learn to walk and talk again. The drama unfurled when he woke up at his girlfriend Ruby’s home in Canterbury on Sunday, February 4 feeling unwell.

Ruby called an ambulance and he was taken to Kent and Canterbury Hospital where a scan revealed he’d had a stroke.

Rhys (left) with his older brother Callum
Rhys (left) with his older brother Callum

Annette, 44, was at work at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford when she received a call and was asked to go back to their home in Priestfields to pick up Rhys’s medication for an overactive thyroid.

Just as she was leaving a consultant called to say her son was being transferred to The Royal London Hospital and she should go straight there.

Annette, a hospital technician, contacted the rest of the family; husband Darren, 49, son Callum, 26, and daughter Mia, 16, who made their way to be at his bedside.

Annette said: “When I was told I just couldn’t believe it. I was shaking. Rhys was being blue-lighted to hospital.”

On arrival, surgeons performed a thrombectomy to remove a blood clot.

Annette said the operation “did not go well”. She said: “He had no movement on his right side. He had no speech but recognised us. He was very upset.”

The next day they saw a neurosurgeon and within 20 minutes he was back in theatre having a “lifesaving” procedure to remove part of his skull.

He was then placed in a coma for four days to help his breathing. He was moved from intensive care to the high-dependency unit and then the stroke department.

She said: “We have asked so many questions as to what caused it: the blood clot, an undetected hole in the heart, a freak of nature?

“They are just saying that’s a million-dollar question.”

Rhys is now in Maidstone Hospital where he is undergoing physiotherapy, speech and occupational therapy and he will then be moved to rehabilitation accommodation.

Annette said: “Part of his brain has died. He will be going back in six months to have a plate fitted in his head.”

Rhys Foskett(far left)
Rhys Foskett(far left)

Dad Darren is a warden at the Foord Alms Houses in Rochester and the family live in a house on site. They are unsure when Rhys will be home but know they will need to install adaptations to meet his medical needs.

The family have set up a GoFundMe page and friends at his former secondary school, Thomas Aveling in Rochester, are also fundraising for Rhys.

His many friends, including those he works with at Envirocare on Medway City Estate, have rallied around.

Ruby’s brother Brady has organised a charity boxing tournament, Fighting for Fosketts, at the Casino Rooms in Rochester on August 18.

Annette said: “It’s very hard, a real struggle. But we have to stay positive for Rhys.

“Every day we see the tiniest of improvement, even if it’s inch by inch, it’s going in the right direction.

“He was a healthy lad, would eat well and kept fit. His thyroid was under control.

“All we want is for Rhys to live as full a life [as possible]. He has many friends, he loves his girlfriend and wants to go travelling – doing what every other 18-year-old would be doing.”

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