James Campbell said he was stuck in the same spot for 19 hours, unable to call for help, after the Sept. 20 stroke

By Joelle Goldstein
January 22, 2021 04:18 PM
James Campbell
James Campbell
| Credit: Give Butter

A 22-year-old Colorado man is lucky to be alive after he suffered a near-death experience that has since left him paralyzed from the chest down.

James Campbell said he was alone in his Boulder apartment, watching a football game on Sept. 20, when his neck started to feel strange, CBS affiliate KCNC reported.

"I was watching the Broncos/Steelers game," he recalled to the outlet. "I thought I had mono, like my neck was just stiff … felt a little weird. That's basically all I remember."

Within minutes, Campbell, then 21, suffered "a rare and severe spinal stroke" or a posterior spinal cord infarct, his family-run fundraising page states.

Spinal strokes, which account for 1.25% of all strokes, occur when there is a blockage in the blood supply to the spinal cord, according to the Brain and Spine Foundation.

Those who suffer spinal strokes often experience neck pain, muscle weakness, and in severe cases, paralysis, the foundation reported.

James Campbell
James Campbell
| Credit: Give Butter

Unfortunately, Campbell was one of those severe cases — and because of it, he was unable to move from the couch or call for help afterward, KCNC reported.

"I was left in that same spot for 19 hours. At that point, I was already paralyzed," recalled Campbell, a previously athletic student at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Campbell's girlfriend eventually found him in the apartment and the college senior was immediately rushed to UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, according to KCNC.

There, doctors determined that Campbell had an array of health issues, including blood clots, low blood pressure, lack of oxygen and failing kidneys, the outlet reported.

"They didn't know if I was going to live or not," Campbell explained. "Spinal cord injuries are like snowflakes, they're all different."

After spending three weeks in the ICU at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Campbell was transferred to Craig Hospital outside of Denver in October, according to his fundraising page.

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Though he's currently in a wheelchair with an "uncertain" long-term prognosis, his family said Campbell is "working hard every day and is determined to fully recover."

On Dec. 18, they revealed that Campbell was moving both thumbs and the pointer finger on his right hand, and by January, they confirmed on his fundraising Instagram that Campbell would begin the outpatient program at Craig Hospital.

"It's hard, the outlook is unsure," Campbell noted to KCNC. "I never saw this in my future."

Because he now requires a wheelchair, Campbell's family said they have to modify their home and purchase adaptive equipment for him.

To help offset the costs of the equipment, along with the physical therapy, medications and frequent doctor visits that Campbell will need, his family set up the fundraising page with a $100,000 goal.

By Jan. 5 — Campbell's 22nd birthday — it had brought in $45,295, according to his Instagram page. And today, the page has raised over $53,000.

Despite suffering from constant neck pain each day, and having a long road to recovery ahead of him, Campbell said he refuses to give up.

"It's a battle every single day," he told KCNC. "You have no choice but to get up and fight."

Those interested in donating to Campbell's fundraiser can do so here.