Freya Watson is still receiving treatment at Leeds Children’s Hospital
A five-year-old girl suffered a stroke while at a play centre and has been in hospital for almost two weeks.
Freya Watson had been at the Wacky Warehouse in Hull less than 15 minutes when she started screaming in pain and convulsing.
Paramedics rushed Freya to a nearby hospital before she was whisked to Leeds for specialist treatment.
Doctors in intensive care revealed she had suffered a rare type of stroke, which was caused by a ruptured brain aneurysm.
Freya is still receiving treatment at Leeds Children’s Hospital after her near-death ordeal on August 30.
Recalling the fateful day, her mother Sarah said her seven-year-old daughter Charlie Mae ‘came running over saying something was wrong’.
She added: ‘We hadn’t even been there fifteen minutes, kids fall over all the time so I wasn’t initially that concerned.
‘I went over and her eyes were half open and she was screaming in pain. Then she started convulsing and I started to panic.’
Freya was carried out of the play area and put in the recovery position by an unknown man the parents wish to thank.
‘He put her in the recovery position and prevented her from choking, we want to offer him a huge huge thank you,’ Mrs Watson said.
Mrs Watson and partner Adam Watson, both 36, said later that evening they were ‘having to sign sheets talking about whether Freya would love or die’.
Doctors in intensive care revealed she had suffered a rare type of stroke, which was caused by a ruptured brain aneurysm (pictured in hospital)
She added: ‘It was a horrible situation but she’s our daughter and we’ll always fight for her.
‘It was such a horrible time, we did not know whether she would make it and pull through.’
A brain aneurysm is a bulge or ballooning blood vessel. It can leak, causing bleeding in the brain, which can be life-threatening.
WHAT IS A BRAIN ANEURYSM?
A brain aneurysm is a bulge or ballooning blood vessel.
This can leak, causing bleeding in the brain, which can be life threatening.
Symptoms of a ruptured aneurysm include:
- Sudden, severe headache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stiff neck
- Blurred or double vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Drooping eyelid
- Loss of consciousness
An unruptured aneurysm may not have any symptoms and could not require treatment.
The causes of brain aneurysms are often unclear.
Risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking, heavy drinking and old age.
Treatment may include surgery or medication to restore blood flow and relieve pain.
Source: Mayo Clinic
This is known as a subarachnoid haemorrhage, which is an uncommon type of stroke that needs urgent treatment.
Brain aneurysms can develop at any age, according to the NHS – but are very rare in children and may not cause any symptoms until they burst or rupture, the Boston Children’s Hospital says.
It is not clear why Freya’s aneurysm ruptured. However, the American Stroke Association states that ‘heavy lifting or straining can cause pressure to rise in the brain and may lead to an aneurysm rupture’.
On its website, it adds: ‘Strong emotions, such as being upset or angry, can raise blood pressure and can subsequently cause aneurysms to rupture.’
Doctors told Mrs Watson they’d seen similar problems in adults before but had never seen a child in the same condition at the hospital.
Freya temporarily lost most movement on the left hand side of her body due to the stroke, Mrs Watson revealed.
By her fourth day in hospital, her condition had fortunately started to improve and eventually she managed to speak again.
‘It was an amazing moment,’ Mrs Watson said. ‘The first thing she did was ask where her sister was, she just said “where’s Charlie?”
But on Saturday, she suffered a setback. She complained she couldn’t see anything and then Mrs Watson noticed her eyes were glazed over.
Recalling the moment, Mrs Watson said: ‘I knew something was wrong. Then she had more seizures. Probably worse than before.
‘We had to sit and hold her for two hours. Freya just kept saying “make me better”. It was the most heartbreaking day.’
It now looks as though her condition is steadily improving and she has been moved on to the children’s ward to complete her recovery.
Doctors told Mrs Watson they’d seen similar problems in adults before but had never seen a child in the same condition at the hospital (Freya is pictured in hospital)
Brain aneurysms are very rare in children and may not cause any symptoms until they burst or rupture, according to the Boston Children’s Hospital (Freya is pictured in hospital)
However, the family are taking things day by day. Mrs Watson said: ‘We’re not out of the woods yet.
‘There are still potential problems and we have been told it’s a two year recovery process.’
While Mr and Mrs Watson have been at Freya’s bedside, their eldest daughter Joanne has been at home looking after Charlie Mae.
‘I don’t know what we would have done without Jo,’ Mrs Watson said. ‘She has been keeping things going while we’ve been here and I can’t thank her enough.’
Along with her boyfriend, the 17-year-old has started a fundraising campaign to help pay for the family’s travel and any care Freya may need when she leaves hospital.
You can donate here.
WHAT IS A SUBARACHNOID HEMORRHAGE: THE STROKE EMILIA CLARKE NARROWLY SURVIVED ON GAME OF THRONES
A subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is a type of stroke caused by bleeding in the brain.
Five to 10 percent of strokes are caused by SAH. They most typically occur in older people.
It can be caused by a head injury or a ruptured aneurysm.
A third of patients survive and recover, a third survive with disability, and a third do not survive.
- Aneurysm: a balloon-like bulge or weakening of an artery wall that ruptures, releasing blood into the subarachnoid space around the brain.
- Arteriovenous malformation (AVM): an abnormal tangle of arteries and veins with no capillaries in between. The weakened blood vessels can rupture and bleed.
- Traumatic brain injury: during the impact of an accident, the brain crashes back and forth inside the skull tearing blood vessels.
- sudden onset of a severe headache (often described as ‘the worst headache of my life’)
- nausea and vomiting
- stiff neck
- sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- blurred or double vision
- loss of consciousness