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Four-year old girl on the mend after stroke

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 21st, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

While stroke is usually thought of as something that afflicts someone in their declining years, at least 300 children suffer a stroke in the United Kingdom every year. Four-year-old Mabel Munoz will be having a very special Christmas for surviving a particularly deadly stroke at the age of three.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Doctors feared that little Mabel would suffer permanent brain damage after she had a rare brain bleed while out shopping with her father Harry.

Prompt action on the part of emergency services, however led Mabel to make a full recovery. She is now looking forward to a festive family celebration.

"We just feel so thankful. Every time I cuddle her I think 'What would I have done without her?'" her mother Tracy Hill from Teignmouth, Devon says.

"We keep saying all the time that it's going to be a good Christmas this year. It could have been so different.

"If we hadn't got her to the hospital so quickly in the air ambulance she might have been left brain damaged and sitting in a wheelchair this Christmas.'

A stroke is characterized by a sudden disruption to the blood supply of the brain. Around half of those who suffer childhood strokes typically have an underlying medical condition. The other half will be apparently healthy beforehand.

Strokes can affect many things including a child's movement, speech, behavior and learning. It must be noted that no two children recover in exactly the same way after a stroke. Progress will depend on the area of the brain affected, and what caused the stroke in the first place. Treatment includes medication such as blood thinners and physiotherapy.

At the onset, Mabel began vomiting while in town with her father Harry. Munoz took his daughter home to bed thinking she had food poisoning, but her condition quickly worsened.

"He brought her home and then she went limp and her eyes kept rolling back and he phoned an ambulance," her mother says.

"I had been at work and when I got home she was lying at the bottom of the stairs. My first thought was that she had fallen down the stairs.

"The ambulance men knew straight away. When she got to Torbay Hospital they did an MRI scan and sent it to Frenchay in Bristol. They said 'We want her here now.'"

"When I heard she was going in a helicopter I knew how serious it was."

Harry and Tracy had to travel by car because an anesthetist had to accompany Mabel in the helicopter, keeping her in an induced coma.

'We didn't know if she would be dead or alive when we got to Frenchay so it was really scary,' Mrs. Hill said.

'The transfer time was critical. With strokes from the point of collapsing you only get about three hours to eradicate the bleed and stop it spreading.'

Luckily, Mabel did not suffer any permanent disability after having a stroke. Relearning how to walk, Mabel was able to run out of the hospital but within a week she was able to run out of the hospital.

"We are all delighted to learn that Mabel has made such a fantastic recovery," Helena Holt, the boss of Devon Air Ambulance Trust said. "Her condition was absolutely time-critical and our helicopter was able to make the journey in only 40 minutes."

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