Parents' joy as daughter, 4, makes miraculous recovery from a STROKE

Mabel's father thought she had food poisoning after she fell ill during a shopping tripShe was rushed to hospital after her condition worsened and an MRI scan revealed she had suffered a strokeShe was then sent by helicopter to a specialist hospital where surgeons managed to stem the bleedingThe youngster had to re-learn how to walk but within a week she ran out of the hospital. Her family are now looking forward to a special Christmas

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UPDATED:

18:22 GMT, 20 December 2012

A couple are looking forward to an extra special Christmas this year, after their daughter's miraculous recovery from a stroke at the tender age of three.

Doctors feared Mabel Munoz could have permanent brain damage after she had the rare brain bleed while out shopping with her father Harry.

Thankfully the prompt actions of the emergency services meant Mabel made a full recovery and she is now looking forward to a festive family celebration.

Mabel, 4, and her mother Tracy are looking forward to an extra special Christmas after Mabel survived a stroke and heart surgery

Mabel, 4, and her mother Tracy are looking forward to an extra special Christmas after Mabel survived a stroke and heart surgery

Mother Tracy Hill from Teignmouth, Devon, said: 'We just feel so thankful. Every time I cuddle her I think “What would I have done without her”

'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.'

STROKE: NOT JUST AN 'OLD PERSON'S DISEASE'

A stroke is a sudden disruption to the blood supply of the brain.

They are rare in childhood, affecting just 300 children in the UK every year.

Around half of those who suffer a stroke, like Mabel, will have an underlying medical condition. But the other half will have been apparently healthy beforehand.

Strokes can affect many things including a child’s movement, speech, behaviour and learning. However, in the majority of cases these effects are mild.

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.

Mabel's ordeal began when she started vomiting while in town with her father Harry. Mr Munoz took his daughter home to bed thinking she had food poisoning, but her condition quickly worsened.

Mrs Munoz said: 'He brought her home and then she went
limp and her eyes kept rolling back and he phoned an ambulance.

'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 ambulancemen 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 anaesthetist 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.'

The family then had a long anxious wait for Mabel to come around from the coma. Until she awoke
doctors could not say if the bleed on the right hand side of her brain
would have left her permanently disabled.

Mrs Munoz said: 'I sat by her side and didn't know if she would recognise me or would be able to speak.

'She opened her eyes and looked at me
and said 'I'm hungry'. They brought her some toast and she was only
using her right hand side, but I knew she was still my Mabel when she
said 'That's yummy yum pots'.'

Fighting fit: Luckily Mabel did not suffer any permanent disability after having a stroke

Fighting fit: Luckily Mabel did not suffer any permanent disability after having a stroke

The youngster had to re-learn how to walk but within a week she ran out of the hospital.

Mabel, who has since had her fourth birthday, was later found to have a narrow main aorta to the heart, causing high blood pressure.

She has since undergone a heart operation and had a stent fitted to widen the artery.

Now she has to wear a special boot at
night to keep her left foot straight and will need more heart surgery
when she outgrows the stent in a few years time.

She is happily attending pre-school in nearby Shaldon where big sister Bella is a pupil.

Mrs Munoz said: 'We were very, very lucky thanks to
the fantastic care we had from so many people. I just wish I could
line them all up and thank them.'

Helena Holt, the boss of Devon Air
Ambulance Trust, said: 'We are all delighted to learn that Mabel has
made such a fantastic recovery.

'Her condition was absolutely time-critical and our helicopter was able to make the journey in only 40 minutes.'