Mum of Long Sutton girl Gracie (10) shares story of her daughter's stroke
The mother of a 10-year-old girl who is recovering after suffering a stroke is sharing her story to raise awareness of the condition.
Gracie Whittick, of Long Sutton, was getting ready for a day at school when she had the stroke and was rushed to Addenbrooke's Hospital for a three-hour operation to remove a blood clot from her brain.
Now her mum Hayley is hoping to raise awareness of the symptoms of strokes which include facial and arm weakness along with speech problems.
Strokes in children are rare with only around 400 cases recorded in the UK each year and are caused when the blood supply to the brain is cut off.
While she is making good progress, Gracie has a long journey ahead and is hoped to be discharged from hospital shortly but it could have been a different story if not for her mum's quick thinking.
Hayley said: "Strokes can happen at any age and I want to raise awareness of that. Most people would think those over the age of 55 are at risk but children are also at risk and it happened so quickly to Gracie.
"If you see any see any symptom such as their face dropping, cant speak or move their arms then get straight onto the phone to the ambulance as that is what potentially saved Gracie.
"The message I want to get across is that children can have a stroke and if you suspect anything get on the phone."
Gracie was coming down the stairs on the morning of September 26 when she collapsed into her mother's arms.
Hayley noticed that Gracie's mouth had dropped and she was unable to move her right leg so immediately called the ambulance.
She said: "I suspected it was a stroke but then I thought it couldn't be as she's only 10-years-old."
Gracie was initially taken to The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn where doctors conducted a number of tests before confirming that Gracie had suffered a stroke and transferred her to Addenbrooke's.
Due to the position of the blood clot, surgeons opted for a different procedure to remove it by inserting equipment via an artery in her leg.
Hayley said: "She is the first child they have used this procedure on and she is a case study.
"They have removed 96 per cent of the clot."
Gracie, who will be on medication for the rest of her life, is making good progress as she is able to talk and walk but has some weakness on her right side. She is being supported on her road to recovery by physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists and Speech therapists.
Hayley said: "She is doing a lot better this week as she can write her name and a few little words. Last week she was using her left hand but we are trying to encourage her to use her right hand.
"We have been told that it is going to be a long road back. It is a matter of time and she will get there in the end."
Friend Emma Burnett has started fundraising to support the family through Gracie's recovery and has generated up to £650 so far.
Emma and her sister Leah are also planning to hold a family event in Sutton Bridge in December.
She said: "I could not imagine what they are going through and I wanted them to know that there is help there. I would like to raise enough money that they could go on a little holiday or something."
If you would like to support the page go to: www.gofundme.com/f/helping-gracies-family