Connetquot High School senior Quintin Folkes was having a stroke and the staff at the school detected it early enough that it may have saved Folkes’ life. Credit: Newsday

The first sign something was wrong came on a snowy morning in January, when Connetquot High School senior Quintin Folkes fell while dressing for school. The second was when he forgot his phone, and didn't seem to care he'd left it behind. 

As it turns out, Folkes — a 17-year-old student athlete with no prior health issues — was having a stroke.

Around 1 in 400,000 children each year suffer a stroke caused by a large vessel occlusion, or a blood clot blocking a major artery in the brain, according to a 2022 study published by JAMA Neurology. That's what happened to Folkes, who had surgery to remove the clot later that day.

The teen typically starts his day with a free period in the library, where, on that snowy day in January, office assistant Gina Ferreira, 65, Sayville, noticed Folkes was behaving oddly. He was stumbling, she said, and when he signed in, his handwriting was illegible.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • A Connetquot High School senior survived a stroke this winter, thanks to quick action from his teachers and doctors. 
  • 1 in 400,000 children suffer a stroke caused by a blood clot blocking a major artery in the brain each year, according to a 2022 medical study.
  • Doctors stress that speed is of the essence when treating a stroke. “Time is brain,” said neurosurgeon Dr. Daniel Santos.

“I watched him leave the library to go to second period and I saw him stumble a little bit again,” she said. “That’s when I told Cheryl, the librarian, that something was wrong.”

Concerned, librarian Cheryl Carr, 63, of East Patchogue, looked up his second period teacher and pulled her out of class to tell her to keep an eye on him.

Folkes had his head on the desk, Carr said, but later, when he looked up, the teacher noticed part of his face seemed to be drooping. That’s when she walked him down to the nurse’s office, who, after consulting with the principal, decided to call an ambulance.

Folkes was transported to South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, where he was diagnosed with a stroke and a neurosurgeon removed the blood clot. 

Quick action from his doctors and teachers may have saved Folkes’ life.

“Time is brain,” said Dr. Daniel Santos, a neurologist who took care of Folkes at the hospital after the intervention. “Every second that goes by, more and more neurons are dying from not getting enough blood.”

Folkes’ doctors said that, thanks to the quick intervention, the teen is expected to make a full recovery, although it might take some time for him to recover the fine motor skills on his right side.

He's scheduled for a procedure in September to evaluate the size of a hole in his heart that was discovered while treating him for the stroke, said his mother, Charline Folkes, 47, of Ronkonkoma. Doctors are not sure if it led to the blood clot in his brain, she said.

“For kids … the recovery from stroke is really remarkable,” said Dr. David Fiorella, neurointerventionalist, director of the Stony Brook Cerebrovascular Center and co-director of the Stony Brook Cerebrovascular and Comprehensive Stroke Center.

“In the first 90 days, we’ll see the fastest portion of the recovery occur, but after that, especially in children, they’ll continue to recover substantially,” he added. Dr. Fiorella was not one of the doctors involved in treating Folkes.

Charline Folkes said she hopes that her son sharing his story will help raise awareness about signs of a stroke, especially in children. His story, she said, could “save another kid’s life.”

Signs of a potential stroke include issues with balance, vision loss, sudden face drooping or speech slurring, or if one side of the body becomes weaker than the other, according to Santos.

Since suffering the stroke, Folkes has celebrated his 18th birthday, finished physical therapy and returned to sports. The varsity basketball athlete said he joined track and field for the first time this year to throw the shot put.

His mother said he’s also returned to work as a server at Brightview Senior Living, and started taking driving lessons. In the fall, Folkes plans to study accounting at SUNY Old Westbury.

“Parents, listen to your kids. If your kids aren’t acting normal, then there’s something definitely wrong,” he said. “Pay attention to the little details … It can mean life or death.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of the story incorrectly identified Dr. Daniel Santos' title.

From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book. Credit: Newsday Staff

Elisa DiStefano kick-starts summer with the Fun Book show From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book.

From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book. Credit: Newsday Staff

Elisa DiStefano kick-starts summer with the Fun Book show From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book.

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME