Teen unable to move or communicate after asthma attack at 11 led to cardiac arrest

A near-fatal asthma attack left an active teenage boy unable to move or communicate.

Geraint Richards suffered the attack during his walk home from school and it lead to a cardiac arrest.

The boy’s parents say the family’s world has been “turned upside down” following the hospital dash in January 2014, WalesOnline report.

Geraint, now 18, had dealt with the “routine” condition since birth and was just eleven when he nearly lost his life after leaving school.

A medical team battled on the street for 14 minutes to revive him and left the lad severely brain damaged.

Geraint, from Tondu, Wales, has not been able to move since the heartbreaking afternoon.

Now, seven years on, he takes up to 16 different types of medication to manage his condition.

His father, Chris Richards, 51, said his condition is deteriorating and told how he now suffers regular broken bones and respiratory failure.

Chris ran the London Marathon to raise money for WellChild, the national charity for seriously ill children – and to thank those within the organisation that he has described as the family’s “guardian angel” through some difficult times.

After his asthma attack, Geraint spent nine months in hospital being cared for by a WellChild nurse who his family say went above and beyond what they expected.

Chris said: “He is not doing too well at the moment. He fractured his knee at the end of June, he fractured his head last week and he’s in respiratory failure. There’s no coming back from that, it’s just time now,” said Chris.

“He’s on 15 to 16 different medications a day and is on morphine because his bones are so thin and brittle he keeps getting fractures. It has been tough.”

Chris says that Geraint also has regular seizures and is bed-bound needing 24-hour care.

“They can’t meet his needs in the hospital because he needs someone with him 24/7 and you can’t expect a nurse who doesn’t know him to do that. He can’t communicate so they’re not going to know if he’s in pain or what his needs are,” said Chris.

“The toughest part for us is that he can’t communicate with us, he wants to do something and he can’t tell us what he wants. But he is switched on and his memories are as they have been since day one.

“He is trapped in his body. Trapped in a body that won’t do anything he wants, when he wants.”

After the attack, Geraint spent three weeks in intensive care at the University Hospital of Wales, a further week on the high dependency unit, and then nine months on the Land Ward at the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital.

At the time, Chris said: “The day it happened was just a normal day – he went to school fine.

“He rang my wife at about 1pm saying he felt a bit ill and she said she finished work at 2pm and if he still felt ill to ring and she would pick him up.

“She never heard from him so presumed he was okay.

“But when school finished, he phoned to say he was feeling unwell and his chest was tight and that he’d run out of his pump.

“It’s only a short walk from our home on Glan Y Nant, but by the time my wife got to him in the car, he was practically sat on the floor struggling to breathe.

“She knew straight away that it was bad so she took him to the nearby surgery where she works.”

Geraint was put on a nebuliser but when it had little effect, he was rushed to hospital in Bridgend.

When Geraint’s condition failed to improve an intensive care team was called in to transfer him to Cardiff, but it was then that he went into cardiac arrest.

It took a further five hours to stabilise him before he could be transferred, and by then the attack had life-changing consequences for Geraint.

“He was just a normal boy who loved his sport, XBox and fishing. But then he was so close to dying. In fact he was clinically dead for 14 minutes,” Chris added.

“When we were in the hospital, we were visited by one of the nurses every single day. And it came to a point where we were reliant on her coming because she was just such a calming influence when she was there.

“The help we had from her was far from the expectations we could ever have of a nurse.”