Chickenpox caused four-year-old to have a STROKE

December 1, 2018  15:51

A four-year-old girl was forced to relearn how to walk and talk after the chickenpox caused her to have a stroke.   

Sophie Fuller has been left permanently brain damaged and with limited use of her right arm after suffering a stroke in what doctors have called an 'extremely rare' case.

Since the incident on July 8, Sophie, of Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, requires 24-hour care and has to take blood-thinning injections twice a day.

Although still affected by the health scare, the youngster has returned to nursery and has even learned to ride an adapted tricycle.

Five out of every 100,000 children has a stroke in the UK every year. Research has shown chickenpox can increase the risk of the condition in youngsters.

The virus behind chickenpox is thought to cause blood vessels in the head to narrow, according to the Stroke Association.  

Four months on, the blood vessels in Sophie's brain are still very thin, which puts her at risk of suffering a second stroke.

Her mother Tracy Fuller, 33, said: 'From her recent MRI in October it shows permanent brain damage and the vessels are still very narrow.

'Sophie will always be at risk. We keep her in our bedroom and don't let her sleep on her own. 

'We are living in fear, making sure she is breathing, but we are a really strong family and have a lot of support. 

'This is going to be a long journey. This has completely changed our lives. You're living every single day and you're reminded what happened.'

Sophie is due to have another MRI scan in around six months time, with doctors being unsure if the blood vessels in her brain will ever expand to a normal size. 

During her eight-week stint in hospital, Sophie learned to walk and talk again with the help of daily speech and language therapy, as well as occupational therapy and physio.

'Sophie still needs her wheelchair for out and about as she can’t walk far, but has learned to again for short distances,' Mrs Fuller said. 'Sophie has a limp when walking but is doing amazingly well.'

The youngster also has a splint on her right leg and foot to help her stay mobile. 

Sophie's father Edwin, 32, first knew something was wrong when he picked his daughter up after she fell out of bed, only for her to have a seizure in his arms.

Mrs Fuller, who is also mother to Courtney, 15, and Connor, 17, said: 'When I saw her I panicked and said "she's having a stroke" - it's absolutely heartbreaking.'

An ambulance rushed the youngster to the Royal Hospital for Children.

'We witnessed everything she went through,' Mrs Fuller said. 'They told us to keep talking to her. 

'All I wanted to know was whether she was going to be alright but nobody could tell me.

'My husband realised how severe it was. It's just the worst thing you can possibly imagine.

'The hospital staff saved her life. We can't thank them enough. We feel they are part of our family because of what they have done.' 

Although still deeply affected by what happened, the family put on a brave face and are looking forward to taking Sophie to Disneyland Paris next month so she can meet her favourite Disney character - Beast from Beauty and the Beast.

'The strength she has shown, we have got to keep going for Sophie - she needs us to keep going,' Mrs Fuller said.

'Every single day we get upset but we have to hide that from Sophie.

'One of the physios said it's almost like a grieving process. It's almost like you have lost your wee girl. She was a very head-strong girl. She still is.'

Doctors have told Mrs Fuller such a young child suffering a stroke is 'very, very rare'. 

'No four-year-old should be experiencing this. Anyone can take a stroke at any age - I have learned so much,' she said. 

'She's come so far in only four and a half months. We are so proud of the journey she's been through, and we want to thank everyone who supported us.'  

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