In February of this year, a healthy 16 year old football player Carson Cathy of Oswego High school in Illinois collapsed after having breakfast. He couldn’t feel or move his left side of the body and he was rushed to the local emergency room, where he was diagnosed with a stroke. He was then emergently transferred to Rush University Medical Center where doctors gave him a clot busting medication. It worked and the stroke symptoms started to resolve.
The next question was how did a healthy 16 year old football player get a stroke. The commonest cause at this age is a hole between the upper chambers of the heart, called patent foramen ovale - PFO for short, where clots move from the right side of the heart, to the left side, then flow to the brain and obstruct flow, leading to a stroke. Carson was tested for this, and was found to have that hole and he underwent cardiac catheterization and had the hole closed.
A couple of weeks after the surgery, Carson returned back to school and started playing football again. The stroke did not leave a lingering physical deficit. Carson’s story is one of resilience and perseverance. He keeps telling people that “if I can do it, you can do it as well” and “just keep going, keep pushing and just never give up”.