Teen recovering from stroke, working to help others - KCTV5

Teen recovering from stroke, working to help others

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Blake Ephraim is 16 and a cheerleader at Olathe South High School.

"It's the same, I think about guys and my friends and going to school, but it's different, it's really different," she said.

Two months ago Blake woke up with an earache, then nausea and a splitting headache.

"A few hours later, we were in an ambulance screaming down I-35 to KU," said Lisa Wilcox, Blake's mother.

Doctors at the University of Kansas Hospital found she had a blood clot making her brain swell. Soon she couldn't speak or understand, then she lost control of half her body.

Blake was having a stroke and Doctor Koji Ebersole, an endovascular neurosurgeon, had to operate.

"All of the skull in this area was removed so that the brain would have space to swell and not push over to the other side," Ebersole said. "If your brain is still in that phase where it's working itself out, I think you can do amazing things."

Blake doesn't remember much of her recovery, but doctors and her family said it couldn't have gone better from there.

"The day she got out of bed and walked around the unit for the first time, she just strolled. It was absolutely amazing," Wilcox said.

And the young girl has continued to make strides. Language is still the toughest part. Words don't come at the fast-paced speed of regular teens - she's re-learning how to read and write.

But Blake is also planning to reach out to other young stroke victims to help them through their recovery.

"It's like ‘why did this happen to me and why is this a thing?' But it happened and you just got to move on," she said.

Luckily teen stroke victims generally recover faster because their brains are still young and developing. At the start, the symptoms for a kid are going to be similar to any stroke victim and might include face drooping, losing feeling in your arms, problems talking or understanding. Doctors say they should be taken to the hospital immediately.

Blake's mom said people can't know a stroke is coming, but they can make sure their kids are active and healthy. She believes that's why Blake has recovered so well.

The medical costs are racking up for Blake's family, so friends are planning a fundraiser for Saturday night. A chili dinner followed by performances from area cheer and dance teams will be held at Olathe South High School at 6 p.m. The cost is $7 for adults and $5 for kids.

Blake will also be performing with her cheer squad at the fundraiser.

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