Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Rochester boy survives hole in heart and stroke

If you need a reason to donate to the Royal Children's Hospital, Robert Bessell's story is good incentive.

ELAINE COONEY April 8, 2014 3:20am

Robert and Naomi Bessell were grateful for the Royal Children’s Hospital last month. Photo: Elaine Cooney

In ten days, you will receive a knock on your door to support the Good Friday Appeal.

The appeal is the annual fundraiser for the Royal Children’s Hospital, which sees tens of thousands of children every year.

Rochester resident Robert Bessell and his family are eternally grateful for the hard work the hospital does to help sick children.

Last month, Robert was playing basketball at Rochester Secondary College on a Friday afternoon when he kept tripping over his left leg.

He eventually fell and could not feel his left arm.

His mother Naomi Bessell was called and they travelled by ambulance to Bendigo Health.

In the ambulance, the left side of Robert’s face drooped and the sirens went on.

The paramedics told Mrs Bessell that it appeared Robert had suffered a stroke.

‘‘He can’t have a stroke. He’s only 12,’’ she replied.

They told her if she was a religious person, to start praying.

After an MRI scan showed two blood clots in Robert’s brain, doctors sent images to the Royal Children’s Hospital and put Robert on a helicopter.

Robert could not feel any sensation in his hand until the next day when he woke up at the Melbourne hospital.

‘‘It was weird moving my fingers. It felt delayed,’’ he said.

‘‘When I grabbed onto things it was hard to let go.’’

On the Sunday, he raised his left leg for the first time.

In the middle of the night on the Wednesday, he wiggled his toes and woke his mother to break the good news.

Mrs Bessell was delighted she had the chance to stay in the room with her son and be there to watch his recovery.

Robert’s friends visited him at the hospital that weekend and they went to the Starlight Express Rooms to watch movies and join in the fun.

Mrs Bessell said entertainers came around to the sick children in their beds if they were not well enough to go to the activity room.

Robert’s 13th birthday did not go unnoticed either.

He received four birthday cakes and nurses fussed over him and brought presents.

Mrs Bessell said she believed children recovered well at the hospital because of the treatment they received, as well as the positive environment.

She encouraged people to donate to the Good Friday Appeal because many children needed the invaluable service.

Mrs Bessell said the Rochester community was exceptionally supportive, sending well wishes and cards and praying for Robert.

‘‘The support kept us going,’’ she said.

Robert is now back at school and while he is taking it easy on the basketball court, he is almost back to full health.

He does have some difficulty feeling textures with his left palm.

His clots should disappear over time due to blood-thinning medication.

Doctors found Robert had a hole in his heart since birth which could have contributed to the stroke.

At a meeting next month, Mrs Bessell, Robert and the doctors will discuss whether it is necessary to operate.

The Rochester branch of the Good Friday Appeal is seeking volunteers to help with collections.

Volunteers will meet at the Rochester fire station at 9.15am on April 18 and each will be given a tin and identification label.

The volunteers will be doorknocking in the Rochester area but donations can be made at the fire station all day.

Alternatively you can go to or call 9292 1166 to donate.

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