By Dan Coles and Dilantha Dissanayake
A man who has suffered more than 26 strokes – the first when he was just six years old – has told how he defied the odds to be on course to
qualify as a physiotherapist and graduate with honours.
Daniel Nwosu, 22, from Peckham, London, has had six major strokes and at least 20 mini strokes since he was a schoolboy – including one when he was on a DATE – and has had to relearn to walk and talk, as well as being left with narcolepsy.
But despite suffering so many strokes, he’s left medics stunned by showing no lasting physical or mental effects after the multiple strokes, and is now studying physiotherapy at university to help people in the same position.
Daniel had his first stroke aged six, which doctors told his worried mum was as a result of Sickle Cell Anaemia, which he had had since birth.
He said: “At six years old I had my first stroke; all I can remember is my brother carrying me on his back to the ambulance.
“I woke up in A&E and the doctor explained what had happened, I didn’t know what was going on but I stayed in that hospital for six months.
“I wasn’t old enough to realise how serious a stroke is, at that age I wasn’t thinking about the future.
“I had to learn everything again, I was doing speech, physical and occupational therapy and could speak in dribs and drabs but everything I said was slurred because the entire left side of my body was paralysed.
“The doctors didn’t know if I would get the left side of my body working, but after six weeks of therapy everything started to come back.
“As the strokes went on, more and more complications arose, we didn’t understand what was happening and I developed narcolepsy and Moyamoya disease which at times left me completely absent and unresponsive.
“It was connected to sickle cell disease from the start but because of the Moyamoya disease the transfusions were not working, eventually they started to work.
“I want to use what I have been through for the better, I’m studying physiotherapy because without that I would still be in a wheelchair today.
Daniel’s mum, Carol added: “I just don’t have the words to describe how it felt finding my son like that in the morning.
“His brain haemorrhage put him in a coma, and I’ve lost count of how many mini strokes he has had, it’s at least 20.
“To look at him you would never believe what he has gone through, he’s a miracle.”
Daniel’s first stroke happened when he was six, which was caused by sickle cell disease and ended up having six more strokes, 20 mini strokes, a brain haemorrhage, developed narcolepsy and Moyamoya disease between the ages of six and 16.
Daniel said: “It was all going on throughout secondary school, I remember once collapsing when I was out with a girl and she had to call my mum who explained what was happening.”
Throughout his decade long ordeal, he maintained the stance that he did not want to tell anyone what had and was happening to him because he didn’t want anyone to label him as having problems.
“I came into school in a wheelchair and told my friends I had a car crash because I didn’t want the stigma, or to be branded a risk, I only came clean to my lifelong friends this year .
When Daniel was seven, his mum set up a charity as a result of what her son had been through which deals specifically with sickle cell disease and the problems that can occur from the disease called “Sickle Cell and Young Stroke Survivors.”
Carol said: “We’ve been going strong for 15 years now, we have had cases of two and three-year-old children having major strokes.
“One of the best parts is being able to show other parents what Daniel has been through, so they know there’s a light at the end of tunnel if they’re going through a similar thing – the more we get people reading into what this disease can cause the better.”
Daniel added: “After what I’ve been through, I want to help stop other people going through the same and the physio is what has had the biggest impact in my recovery.
“As well as my university degree, I also run events in London, I’m setting up an event for mums’ charity in autumn to get even more people together talking about this condition.
“It has been a very long road, but my friends know what has happened, my parents have given me every possible helping hand they could and have played a vital role in my recovery, a role I hope to play for other people in the future.”
A stroke is a brain attack. It happens when the blood supply to the brain is cut off due to:
A clot blocking the flow of blood to the brain (also known as an ischaemic stroke)
A bleed in or around the brain from a burst blood vessel (also known as a haemorrhagic stroke).
Signs to look out for:
Facial weakness – can the person smile.
Has their mouth or eye drooped.
Arm weakness – can the person raise both arms.
Speech problems – can the person speak clearly and understand what you say.