A British graduate has told how he is ‘lucky to be alive’ after spending eight days in a coma when he suffered a rare brain haemorrhage that doctors had never seen in a patient so young.
Leyth Hampshire, 23, from south London, had just landed an exciting new job in climate change with the EU and had travelled to Budapest to attend a networking event when he suddenly collapsed with a seizure.
What started off as a seemingly normal day in October quickly descended into a nightmare, as the devoted vegan – who competed in triathlons in his spare time – was left fighting for his life and minutes from death.
Leyth explained he had been mingling with colleagues when he unexpectedly dropped to the ground.
Leyth Hampshire, 23, woke up one cold October morning excited to navigate life in a new job in Budapest
‘It was early morning I don’t remember much,’ Mr Hampshire recalled.
‘I told my colleagues I needed to go to the loo, turned around and passed out. No one around me knew what was happening and I started having a fit on the floor. I don’t remember anything – I was out to the world.’
Mr Hampshire was rushed to a Hungarian hospital where doctors discovered he was barely breathing on arrival. What was initially thought to be an asthma attack turned out to be something far more serious – it was his brain.
He had suffered a grade-5 aneurysm. An artery in his brain had suddenly and inexplicably burst open and caused an instant stroke. It’s a such a serious occurrence that almost 80 per cent of people fail to wake up from it.
Lying in a strange bed in a Hungarian hospital with dozens of wires snaking out of him, Mr Hampshire was in a coma for more than a week as his body desperately fought not to shut down.
Mr Hampshire, from south London, was rushed to hospital where doctors discovered he was barely breathing on arrival
Every 24 hours Mr Hampshire was fighting for his life – his body was in constant tension as it tried to feed what little energy it had to his brain to stop it from shutting down.
‘When I woke up I was very disorientated – I opened my eyes and saw lots of nurses surrounding my bed,’ he said.
‘I was strapped to my hospital bed so I couldn’t move as I had three implants in my brain doing tests. Doctors were worried that when I woke up I would become anxious and rip the wires out.’
‘Waking up in a Hungarian hospital is something I can’t even describe the fear. I couldn’t move my body, I was in a lot of pain, I was shaking and sweating and things were blurry.
Every 24 hours Mr Hampshire was fighting for his life – his body was in constant tension as it tried to feed what little energy it had to his brain to stop it from shutting down
‘I was actually given a sedative to make me fall back asleep because I was so anxious.’
The graduate, who studied business at the University of the West of England, was the last person his family and friends would ever expect to have serious health problems.
A vegan, he competed in triathlons, practiced yoga and loved climbing. He was chasing a high-flying job in finance after completing an impressive masters course jetting between San Francisco, Barcelona and Taiwan.
Mr Hampshire says doctors confessed they had no idea why such an active and healthy young man was reduced to life support with a tube helping him to breathe.
When Mr Hampshire woke up for the second time, he was met by loved ones who had flown from all over the world to be by his bedside.
‘Suddenly I wake up again and I see my family and friends there, and it filled me with joy but also filled with fear as to why am I in this place, ‘ he said.
‘My dad lives lives in Iraq, and he was by my bed and I thought I was dreaming and then seeing my mum and one of my best friends who had been travelling in New Zealand – I was crying in a state a joy and of terror.’
An avid vegan, he competed in triathlons, practiced yoga and loved climbing. He was chasing a high-flying job in finance, after completing an impressive masters jetting between San Francisco, Barcelona and Taiwan
‘They had to call a doctor to calm me down when they told me I’d been in a coma.
‘Your heart heart drops. They said I had been here for a while with a tube in my throat feeding me. I had 14 wires attached me, on my brain, chest, needles up my arm and I couldn’t move.’
Medics were forced to break the horrifying news that he had suffered a serous brain injury, telling Mr Hampshire he had a stroke, a brain haemorrhage and a ruptured aneurysm.
‘Doctors told me they’d never seen this in someone so young. They said I arrived barely breathing when I arrived at the hospital,’ he said.
Mr Hampshire had to be operated on four times. On the day after he collapsed, his mother – who had quickly flown to the hospital to be with him – had to sign paperwork to waiver a high chance of death before he was wheeled into surgery.
‘The second operation actually failed. When they told my mum she dropped to her knees and said “Whats going to happen now?’.
Fortunately, one of the top neurosurgeons in the world is Hungarian and was at the hospital the day Mr Hampshire was admitted. He was quickly drawn in to perform a life-saving operation on him.
Mr Hampshire had to be operated on four times. On the day after he collapsed, his mother – who had quickly flown to the hospital to be with him – had to sign paperwork to waiver a high chance of death
One of the surgeon’s specialist operations is to send a camera through an opening in the groin, feeding it through a vein into the brain where a 4cm tube is inserted to replace a ruptured artery.
‘Maybe 2 hours earlier if I had collapsed in the shower or travelling on a train I would be dead,’ Leyth admitted.
‘Before the accident I got the train through Paris and Munich and arrived in Budapest. I usually fly but getting the train turned out to be a decision that saved my life.
‘If I got a plane the pressure would have ruptured the artery and I would have never woken up. I feel very lucky.’
During his hospital stay, Mr Hampshire spent most of the time bed bound unable to move and due to the heavy dose of sedatives he often hallucinated.
‘Opening your eyes on a Sunday and remembering you’d passed out, I thought it was the same day.
Mr Hampshire says doctors confessed they had no idea why such an active and healthy young man was reduced to life support with a tube helping him to breathe
‘I could feel people in the room with me, and I actually imagined my best friend’s brother lying next to me.
‘I also thought I could hear my mum and sister talking. I was hallucinating so much.’
Due to the stroke, Mr Hampshire lost all feeling on his right side and was unable to walk following the accident.
But just two months later he went from unable to leave his bed to fully mobile, with his physiotherapist saying they had never seen someone heal so quickly.
‘Due to the stroke I had no movement, over time I slowly got movement in my hand and when I started moving my arm its like Christmas came early,’ he said.
‘It was not a reality in my head that I would not walk again. Every day I would lie in the hospital bed and stare at the ceiling and envision myself running and walking, through forests and beaches, and each day my leg got better,’ he added.
When Mr Hampshire woke up for the second time, he was met by loved ones who had flown from all over the world to be by his bedside
‘One memory that kept me going whenever I start to feel stressed was the doctor looking me in the eye and smiling saying, “We didn’t think you’d wake up”.’
Mr Hampshire says he still has to wear a brace on his leg, and is working with an acupuncture and private yoga teacher as he recovers but reveals he is ’95 per cent there’.
‘I’m healing so well. These kind of accidents usually happen to 40 to 50-year-olds and I’m 23. The well-being of my body helped in my progress.’
The horrific accident has now changed Mr Hampshire’s outlook on life. Before the accident, he was wanted a high-flying City job in London.
Now, he wishes to focus on his health and nutrition while helping others with theirs.
Following the horrific accident, Mr Leyth is now in a deep recovery stage and is spending his time with family and friends
‘A lot of the old me died in that hospital bed. My sense of identity and the things I believed in.
‘I was chasing a job in finance but I realised working 12 hours a day behind a desk for a big salary is not a life worth living.
‘I was after a status and money. But if you don’t have your health, what do you have?’
‘I want to focus on brain power and the human body. Getting myself back to full recovery and competing again – I want to learn about the brain and body and I want to help others who want to achieve those things.’
Following the horrific accident, Mr Leyth is now in a deep recovery stage and is spending his time with family and friends.
He said: ‘Everything happens for a reason. It was a horrible, horrible experience for everyone involved but because of my new outlook on life I am so glad and so lucky and so happy.’