ALPINE, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – Raymond Leyva is facing a challenging road to recovery after suffering a rare-type of stroke.

But the father of two, husband, and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent is determined to heal. The beloved 43-year-old from Alpine has the support of an entire community.

On Friday, September 2nd, Raymond was exercising at a gym in Alpine. Suddenly, Raymond started feeling ill. He went home and called his wife, Morgan. She raced to meet him there.

“He really couldn’t communicate much to me besides telling me his head hurts,” she said.

Morgan said her initial thought was Raymond was experiencing a brain aneurysm. He was confused and nauseous. Their children were home at the time. No one knew what was happening.

An ambulance rushed Raymond to an Alpine hospital where he was intubated.

“They ended up saying, ‘We got to get him out of here, now,’” Morgan recalled.

Raymond was airlifted to UMC in Lubbock. He has been in the ICU. On Friday, September 16th, Raymond was transferred to intermediate care. It is a sign of progress.

Doctors explained Raymond had experienced a major brain bleed and brain trauma. Tests later revealed Raymond suffered an AVM stroke, otherwise known as an Arteriovenous Malformation stroke.

“It’s like a whole tangle of blood vessels and they’re not connected properly. Basically, at any moment, something can go wrong, like it did that day,” Morgan said.

According to Penn Medicine and Hopkins Medicine, the exact cause of an AVM stroke is not known. But growing evidence suggests there is a genetic factor that causes the rare, and sometimes fatal, medical condition.

Most people who experience an AVM stroke were previously unaware of their susceptibility to one.

“So basically, it was just something he was living with that he didn’t know,” Morgan said, explaining that she has since learned much more about her husband’s condition from doctors.

The stroke was alarming because Morgan said Raymond is otherwise fit and healthy. He exercises five days a week. After all, Raymond lives an active lifestyle as a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Agent. He loves his job of 16 years. Raymond’s favorite part of being an agent is working with scope trucks, Morgan said, which can see for miles in the dark. But his career has been put on hold.

Right now, Raymond does not have much movement on the right side of his body. The stroke severely impacted Raymond’s ability to speak, to read, and to communicate.

“He is completely a fighter. I mean, what he is doing is just a miracle in itself… how far he has come already,” Morgan said proudly.

The road to recovery will be challenging, Morgan said. But it’s a journey that Raymond is facing bravely. Raymond has his family by his side.

“We love him so much. His girls miss him so much. We can’t wait till he can come home,” Morgan said.

Raymond’s medical recovery is costly, however.  

Soon after the news broke about Raymond’s stroke, strangers and familiar names, alike, donated more than $25,000 to a fundraiser in Raymond’s name.

The fundraiser reads in part, “[Raymond] recently had a medical emergency that has displaced his family to Lubbock for medical care. Ray’s family is at his bedside and currently have to pay their expenses out of pocket.”

Businesses, friends, and multiple anonymous donors have contributed to the fundraiser for Raymond’s family. It is clear that the man who is a friend to many, is cared for, by many.

Morgan added the community of Alpine and U.S. CBP have been immensely supportive. But support has also gone beyond the community that Raymond and his family know.

“Lubbock PD, Lubbock Fire Department, all these people are stepping in,” Morgan said. “This is the most amazing thing I can ask for.”

Soon, Raymond will be undergoing rehabilitation therapy. While his family is taking his medical recovery day-by-day, there is great hope and optimism that Raymond will recover, and continue to enjoy his life in West Texas.

Morgan said, “Anybody that knows him, knows that he will work as hard as he can to get back to… as normal of a life as he can.”

For information on brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM), you can find details about symptoms and treatment below. Consulting your physician about any concerns is highly recommended.