Girl who suffered a stroke in the womb starts school after defying doctors who said she would never walk or speak
Doctors did not expect Maddie to be able to walk or talk after she suffered a stroke before her birthAt seven months she sat up for the first time – giving her parents hopeOne of two babies per thousand have brain injuries before birth and survive
14:50 GMT, 4 September 2012
A four-year-old girl who suffered a massive stroke in the womb has stunned doctors by using the healthy side of her brain to walk and talk.
Parents Lisa and Lee Farrell, from Liverpool, Merseyside, were left devastated when a scan revealed their newborn daughter Maddie had suffered a stroke ten days earlier.
They were told that the stroke had caused catastrophic damage to her brain she would never walk or speak.
But although it has taken Maddie longer than normal to reach certain milestones she is all set to go to start her first day at school with her peers.
Lisa (left) was devastated when she was told her daughter Maddie had suffered brain damage due to a stroke in the womb. But the plucky youngster, now four, has made amazing progress (right)
Lisa, 39, said: 'After she was born we were told that, if she did survive, not to expect her to ever walk, talk or communicate.
'Now, she’ll be able to run through those schools gates. Thinking about everything she has overcome fills me with pride.'
Professor Andy Shennan, Consultant
Obstetrician for the baby charity Tommy's said: 'A stroke in the womb
is basically a brain injury that results in disability and is
caused by bleeding or a lack of oxygen.
'Around three in 1,000 babies will
have some form of brain damage leading to stillbirth while a further one
of two per 1,000 will have brain damage but survive.
'A baby has more potential to recover
from a stroke than an adult as they are better able to adapt to using
other parts of their brain.
'That said surviving such a major brain injury before birth is unusual, and it's remarkable Maddie is recovering so well.'
As soon as Maddie was born, Lisa and Lee, 35, they say they knew there was a problem with their daughter and and when she was just a day old, their worst fears were confirmed.
An ultrasound at Liverpool Women’s Hospital revealed she had suffered a massive brain injury in the womb.
Mrs Farrell said: 'When Maddie was born I expected to hear crying but there was none of that.
'She was rushed off by the nurses and I didn’t see her till she was 12 hours old and she was on a ventilator.
'We didn’t know what to expect or what was going to happen.
'Then she was taken to the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, where they told us she had the stoke ten days earlier – when she was still in the womb.
'When the doctor told us I couldn’t believe it, I though a stroke was something that only happened to older people.
'She had all these wires coming out of her and stuck to her head and she’d also shown some signs of seizures.'
Maddie is treated using a bright blue fluorescent light to treat jaundice
Lisa and Lee with Maddie: She's one-in-a-million Lisa said of her daughter
Maddie remained in hospital for five and a half weeks and when she returned home, her parents were faced with the prospect of buying a wheelchair and looking into full-time care for their daughter.
Medics warned the couple, who also have three older children, Aaron, 20, Georgia, 11 and Rhys, 10, that their little girl would never reach the usual milestones. But they were left stunned as Maddie used the other side of her brain to learn to walk and talk.
Ready to start: Maddie is going to a mainstream school in Liverpool
Mrs Farrell said: 'She was seven months old when she sat up on her own for the first time.
'Up until then she had never given an indication of hope – she had never babbled like other babies or shown an interest in toys.
'We were crying and telling everyone about it. It might be something most people take for granted but for us it was so special.'
At ten months old, she learnt to walk and said her first word at two-years-old.
Maddie, who still suffers from anxiety, is due to start at Primary School in Liverpool today.
It will be a proud day for her parents who only found out she would enter mainstream school in May.
Mrs Farrell said: 'When we got the news, we were were made up. It was a massive weight off our shoulders.
'We’ve been told it’s so rare for a child to come on so far after everything she’s been through. She’s one-in-a-million.'
Sonia Mundy, founder of the Childhood Strokes support group, has helped Maddie and her family over the past few years and watched Maddie’s amazing recovery.
She said: 'Maddie’s story and family are amazing, and her recovery is so encouraging. Having to learn to accept that your baby or child has now got an acquired brain injury is so traumatic and so very isolating, and Maddie and her family have been very brave.
'Strokes effect babies in different ways and some babies don’t get recognised till some time down the line – even months – when the baby doesn’t seem to be developing as normal.
'There are no exact figures for the number of childhood strokes as there is no registry.
'A stroke is for life and the hurdles children face are huge. Stroke is an invisable condition sometimes as it’s the brain injury people can’t see.
'For mums and dads it so hard to explain the behaviour and problems that are hidden within our children.'
Lee with newborn Maddie: She has astonished doctors with her progress
For more information about the Childhood Strokes support group visit their website at www.childstrokesupport.com