A Staffordshire mum has told of the devastating moment her healthy 11-year-old son’s face dropped and he suffered a stroke.
Carrie Magee’s first thought was that Marli Brown was too young to suffer a stroke after finding him collapsed on the bathroom floor.
But trusting her instinct, the family called 999 and Marli was rushed to hospital.
In another cruel twist, the schoolboy went on to suffer a second massive stroke and was left unable to walk and paralysed down one side.
Now Carrie wants to share her story in the hope of helping others after their lives were changed forever.
Carrie, aged 32, told BurtonLive: “It’s something that happened out of the blue. Something that you just don’t ever expect to happen.
“On February 18 it was the second day of half term and everything was normal.
“He ate his breakfast and dinner and then he asked if he could go out with his friends on his bike.
“It started to rain so he came home early and he was soaked.
“He said he had a headache and he was going to be sick.
“I could hear him crying upstairs so I ran up and he was collapsed on the bathroom floor.
“As a mum I knew something wasn’t right.
“His face had dropped like what you see on the stroke adverts on television.
“The thought crossed my mind and then it went out again straight away because I thought he is too young to have a stroke.
“I screamed for my partner and he rang 999.”
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Carlie, who lives with Marli and his five-year-old sister Elle, said Marli sat up and was telling her he was fine, that he had fallen over.
He got up and walked downstairs, where she found him slumped on the sofa.
She said: “He kept telling me there was nothing wrong. But when he got on the sofa I noticed he was slumped like he was sliding off it.
“As soon as we got him in the ambulance he started having a fit, he was thrashing around and being sick.
“The paramedic said don’t be alarmed but when we get to hospital there will be a lot of people around him.
“He couldn’t control his right side and it took three men to hold him down to get the cannula in, it was horrible.
“Marli had a CT scan which showed he had a blood clot on the brain.”
Doctors then confirmed the awful news that Marli had suffered a stroke.
She said: “I was in shock. Me and my mum looked at each other thinking, that can’t be right, he is 11.
“It wouldn’t sink in. I didn’t understand what they were telling me.
“He was put on medication to thin his blood and then his blood pressure was fine. By that night he was walking and talking and we thought it must’ve been a mini stroke.”
The following day Marli seemed more like himself and was eating breakfast and asking to watch the television, when doctors took him for an MRI scan.
Carrie, a teaching assistant, said: “We couldn’t go in with him and he managed 45 minutes on his own before he pressed the panic button.
“He was so distressed when he came out he didn’t make it back to his bed, he had a massive stroke.
“It took the whole of his left side. It was completely paralysed.
“He was in hospital for nine days and all he did was lay in bed and sleep, he couldn’t eat or drink.
“They had to feed him using a tube and doctors said it was best for him to just sleep.
“That was a really rough times because he was so poorly. A lot of nurses were a bit wary as they had never treated a child before for a stroke.
“They kept checking his pulse which put me on edge.”
Marli was transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where doctors said he had lost 80 per cent of his right side brain function, which affects the left side of his body.
Carrie, from Burton, said: “He had a CT scan on his head which confirmed he had had blood clot on the brain and narrowing in his aortic valve.
“They said they would need to operate ASAP but they didn’t know if he was fit and well enough to cope with the surgery.
“On March 13 they fitted a stent during a three-hour operation.
“He came back and he was talking happily and asking for food.”
Marli was making progress with his recovery when coronavirus stopped the physiotherapy he needed to strengthen his muscles after his strokes.
Luckily, his family were able to secure a place at a children’s trust in Surrey.
Carrie said: “He went in unable to walk, he could barely stand.
“He had six weeks of intense physio, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and the whole time he was telling me he was going to be okay.
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“He was so determined.
“As a mum I wanted to agree with him but deep down we didn’t know if he would walk again.
“I never thought the day would happen when he would be coming home.
“The staff at the centre were amazing.
“They expected him to be in hospital for two more months at least but he only did six weeks. I’m so proud of him.”
On May 13, 12 weeks after suffering his massive stroke, Marli had recovered enough to ring the bell on the hospital ward, marking the end of his treatment and is now settling back in at home.
She said: “It’s not the end. We need to exercise with him at home and keep an eye on things but we’re so happy he’s here with us.
“We’re still unsure of the cause which is quite scary but I’m so glad that it rained and he came back early because otherwise it might have happened while he was on his bike.
“I’m just thankful he is still here because it could have been a lot worse.”
Carrie said she had learned so much about strokes since Marli became ill and cannot believe how many children suffer as they are traditionally thought to only happen to older people.
She said: “I was amazed by how many children have strokes, so if you do see these signs act quickly.
“Marli’s personality has changed since this but the doctors say that is normal.
“He is still Marli and I’m so proud of him. He’s been so brave.”