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“We’re not going anywhere!” Mum’s refusal to leave hospital after doctors initially miss daughter’s stroke

Press release   •   Mar 25, 2020 13:47 GMT

Sam Sjollema from Bedford, whose young daughter had a stroke, was told it was just a sprained arm and to go home before further tests revealed what had really happened.

Isla Sjollema, who was just two years old at the time, had actually had an Ischaemic stroke. However, it would be 10 months before doctors and the family discovered that a narrow artery in Isla’s neck had caused it.

Isla had a stroke in September 2018 while playing with her brother, Mason, at home. After she fell over and Sam couldn’t get her back to her feet, Sam noticed Isla’s face was swollen on one side. However, by the time the ambulance arrived, Isla had completely lost the use of her left side and was slumped across Sam drooling uncontrollably.

Sam said: “Isla is such a tough little girl and usually bounces straight back up after falling over but every time I stood her up, her legs just gave way. I tried to lie her on the sofa but she just clung to me crying.

“In a blind panic I called the ambulance but it never occurred to me she was actually having a stroke, ‘why would it?’ There are endless worries you experience as a parent but this simply isn’t one of them.”

After attending A&E for tests, doctor’s initially told Sam that Isla had just sprained her arm and advised her to go home. However, Sam refused to leave and insisted that doctors investigate further. Even after blood tests and a CT scan came back normal, Sam still knew something was seriously wrong and an MRI scan finally revealed Isla had had a stroke.

Sam Said: “I couldn’t believe it when the doctor initially tried to send us home, saying he suspected Isla had simply sprained her arm! I remember saying ‘my daughter can’t sit up, her speech is slurred, we aren’t going anywhere!’

“After the MRI, I knew in my gut it wasn’t good news. When we were told our little girl had suffered a stroke, it hit me like a punch to the stomach. I felt physically sick. I had so many questions, ‘How could this happen, she’s only two?’ ‘Would I ever get my baby girl back?’

While more tests were initially unable to find a cause, Isla made remarkable progress each day and was back home within a week. This year the family discovered Isla’s stroke was actually caused a narrow artery in her neck. Now Sam, Husband Dean and the rest of the family can only move forward as best they can and closely monitor Isla’s progress.

Sam added: “Since that life-changing day, we’ve been driving ourselves crazy, watching Isla’s every move, forever fearful of,’ what if she fell again, could this trigger another stroke?’

“We are well aware that things could have been very different. It’s been heart-breaking living out every parent’s worst nightmare but moving forward all we can do is remain positive and be incredibly thankful for Isla’s recovery.”

There are over 400 childhood strokes a year in the UK. A stroke occurring at any time from 29 days-old up to the age of 18 is classed as a childhood stroke. For more information on stroke, specifically in children, visit: https://www.stroke.org.uk/childhood-stroke/about-childhood-stroke

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For more information, please contact Ken Scott on 0115 7788429 or email ken.scott@stroke.org.uk

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