17-year-old Fond du Lac boy survives stroke with help of doctors

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FOND DU LAC (WITI) -- Nearly seven months ago, a Fond Du Lac mom dropped her son off at school.  The next time she saw him, he was leaving emergency surgery.

For 17-year-old Chris Johnson, the pivotal moment came on April 15th in gym class.

"I was running back and forth and all of a sudden I felt a striking pain in my head.  After that I fell down to the ground and I was trying to text my mom," says Johnson.

He texted his mom the words "did was srt," which revealed his jumbled thoughts.

School nurses noticed Chris' drooping face and his inability to talk or stand, and called paramedics.

As his mother rushed to be by his side, Chris was airlifted to Froedtert Hospital.  There, doctors determined that Chris was having a stroke.

Dr. Osama Zaidat showed FOX6 the three blocked arteries in Chris' brain.  Dr. Zaidat says most stroke victims are between the ages of 50 and 70.  In an emergency surgery, Dr. Zaidat attacked the clots in Chris' brain using a mesh tube attached to a very thin wire.

"Insert a needle stick into the groin artery, then we navigate a tube through two cameras.  We open this mesh tube into the clot, incorporate the clot and then slowly take that tube back with the clot within it," says Dr. Zaidat.

The team repeated the procedure three times, removing all three clots.  Images of Chris's arteries after the surgery revealed a drastic difference, and the blood supply restored to the whole brain.

Chris' age turned out to be his biggest asset as he rebounded with remarkable speed.

"It's actually kind of amazing.  He went in on a Monday afternoon, Friday afternoon we were coming home," says Dan Krieser, Chris' dad.

Had medical attention been delayed 15 or 30 minutes, Chris could have had brain damage or even died.  Today, it's hard to tell it ever happened.

"I have to work on my fine motor skills, walking again.  I'm working on my speech, memory for speech.  My attention is very low," says Johnson.

After the shock of a stroke, you'd think it would be hard to surprise Chris.  Still, on his 18th birthday his mom pulled off a surprise party in his honor.  On the guest list were firemen from the station that responded.

"I wouldn't be able to do this today if it wasn't for you guys.  So, thank you from the bottom of my heart," Chris' mom Kim Krieser told them.