UMD student's unbelievable recovery from typically lethal stroke

He was never supposed to walk again, much less survive, but a little over a month after suffering a stroke, a University of Minnesota-Duluth student is making a miraculous recovery. His wisdom: Stay emotionally strong.

He wasn't supposed to walk for a year, much less survive, but a little over a month after suffering a stroke, a University of Minnesota-Duluth student is making a miraculous recovery. His wisdom: Stay emotionally strong.

He knew the signs

Christian England-Sullivan was studying at UMD to become a special ed teacher. Even at age 22, he realized he was having a stroke. Christian somehow made his way through a door where people might find him since he no longer could talk.

After getting clog-dissolving treatment in Duluth, Christian was flown to United Hospital in St. Paul. On Tuesday, his doctor was able to show him what his brain looked like due to a clot in his brain stem, and then, what his brain looked like 22 minutes later after she used a catheter to remove the clot.

80% of people don't survive

Doctors say 80 percent of people with these kinds of strokes die, but not Christian. He's accustomed to teaching, but he had to start learning after the stroke.

"People get really depressed at my age. They get really down, like, 'I can't do this.' But hey, I'm like, 'I'm going to walk today,'" he explained.

He was soon walking, which he wasn't expected to do for a year. He already wears a Fitbit to log his mileage. He's making progress talking, moving and wants to return to school soon.

First words: 'I love you'

Christian's family will tell you he's a planner. He sets small goals each day, and bigger ones, like talking after his breathing tube was removed. His first words were "I love you."

"As a baby, it was 'Mama,' and I'll remember that. This one knocks it out of the park," his mother Marla said.

If there is a final exam for Christian's class, perhaps is this it: When the subjects in your life change, make a new lesson plan.

Lesson: Stay emotionally strong

"As much as people say, ‘Stay strong,' emotionally, stay strong, because I'm pretty sure most of my recovery has been because I have emotionally stayed strong," he preached.

His next plan is to walk out of the hospital on Friday and undergo physical, occupational and speech therapy.


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