Ipswich father-of-five who suffered stroke at just 33 was given 48 hours - but defied the odds

Robbie Cannell is fundraising for the hospital - photographed with Jade, Toni and Mya.

Robbie Cannell is fundraising for the hospital - photographed with Jade, Toni and Mya. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

An Ipswich man who was given just two days to live after suffering a stroke at the age of 33 has spoken of his joy at being able to watch his young family grow up.

Robbie with his daughter Jade.

Robbie with his daughter Jade. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Robbie Cannell, now 36, woke up on January 21, 2013, unable to move the left side of his body and was rushed to hospital.

His wife, Toni, said: “They said he’s had a stroke and he’s got 48 hours to live and all they could do was make him comfortable. It was devastating.”

But Mr Cannell defied the odds against him. After spending three months in the Shotley stroke ward at Ipswich Hospital he was moved to a rehabilitation unit in Norwich.

The couple have five children – Bradley, 13; Jordan, 11; Jack, eight; Jade, five and Mya, two. Mrs Cannell found out that she was pregnant with Mya while Robbie was in hospital after his stroke.

L-R Mya ,Robbie, Jade and Toni Cannell

L-R Mya ,Robbie, Jade and Toni Cannell - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Mr Cannell, who previously worked as a taxi driver in Ipswich, said that the cause of his stroke remains unknown. He had been in good health, didn’t drink or smoke, regularly played golf and managed the Ransomes youth football team of which one of his sons was a member.

After six months, Robbie returned to the family home in Clapgate Lane, which had been modified to incorporate a stairlift and bath hoist as well as a ramp to the front door with him requiring the use of a wheelchair.

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“It was a lot to take on,” said Mrs Cannell. “I was the full time carer for Robbie, having a baby and with four children.

“I honestly don’t know how I coped. I just took it day by day.”

Mr Cannell visits the Icanho brain injury unit three times a week, where he continues to make good progress, and is having oxygen therapy to further help his rehabilitation.

Speaking to his wife on Saturday, he said: “Thank you for everything.”

On Friday, the couple, who have been together for 13 years and married in 2008, presented a cheque for £1,000 to Shotley ward, raised through a medium night.

“This is to say thanks for everything the staff have done for me,” said Mr Connell. “When I first came in to hospital the doctors told me I had two days to live so they did really well for me.”

They have previously donated £2,675 to the hospital to buy two specialist wheelchairs for stroke survivors. Robbie was the first patient to use one. It was this chair that enabled him to go to Toni’s 12-week scan of baby Mya.

“This was my way of giving back,” said Mrs Connell. “They were like my family. I lived with them for five weeks. They worked brilliantly with Robbie. I can’t thank the Shotley Stroke Ward enough.”