Almost two years on from a near-fatal stroke experience, Anthea from Toowoomba is a happy, healthy toddler. She is a strong, determined little sister to Kai and daughter to Karli and Dan. Although she is doing well now, the beginning of her journey was not so easy. In 2017, just six weeks after Karli and Dan brought Anthea home from hospital, things didn’t go quite as planned.

Fondly known as Anthy by her family, the then six-week-old woke up from an afternoon nap in tears. After numerous attempts to soothe Anthea, her crying had only become worse. Karli noticed that Anthea was cool but sweaty with very low body temperatures. As minutes went by her crying turned into screaming and groaning. Her mouth was drooping on one side and her eyes were rolling back into her head.

Karli and Dan took Anthea to the emergency department of their local hospital in Toowoomba. During the 10-minute car ride to the hospital, Anthea was becoming unresponsive, even after Karli tried talking to her and tickling her feet. When they arrived at the hospital, the doctor did a blood test, but everything came back as normal. The doctors decided it was best for Anthea to be airlifted to the Queensland Children’s Hospital (QCH). When the retrieval service arrived in Toowoomba, Anthea was sedated and intubated and had a cannula inserted for medical treatment.

Upon arrival at the QCH, Anthea was admitted to the Peadiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). An ultrasound on her head showed fluid on her brain. Soon after this she was rushed in for an MRI which showed an extensive bleed and a large clot on her brain. The six-week-old had suffered from a stroke. Anthea was rushed in for a six-hour surgery to drain the bleed on her brain and had multiple blood transfusions.

Karli said after surgery Anthea was sent back to PICU for close monitoring and was told that the next 24-48 hours would be critical to Anthea’s survival.

“Anthea amazed us with a fast recovery. She was able to be woken up and extubated quicker than initially planned,” Karli said.

“We spent the next week in PICU before being transported to a ward for a further two weeks. After that we were discharged and on our way home to Toowoomba with a nasogastric tube to assist with her feeding.

“Over the next few months we worked on trying to feed Anthea, so we could remove the nasogastric tube. We also had multiple follow up visits with the ophthalmology department at QCH because the pressure in her brain had caused significant damage to her eyes.”

In April 2019 Anthea had strabismus surgery (an operation to align the eyes) which has helped her greatly. Anthea is now doing well and visits the QCH for regular check-ups with Ophthalmology as the extent of eyesight damage is still unknown.