Lexis ride to remember

Stroke Foundation

Seven-year-old Alexis Abela has not just met all her milestones, she’s smashed them. That’s despite her parents Jade and John being told she would never be able to walk, talk, or live independently just days after she was born.

“We were actually supposed to be leaving hospital and I noticed she had a shaky arm movement, if I was at home, I wouldn’t have thought anything of it, it’s only that I asked the nurse for their opinion and they whisked Lexi away,” Mrs Abela said.

“A doctor at the Royal Children’s Hospital closed all of the blinds and told us she’d had a stroke in utero and not to expect much for her future. We just broke down, we were numb.”

Lexi spent much of her first year attending a variety of specialist appointments.

“And then she started crawling, then walking and talking – we were very surprised,” Mrs Abela said.

“As a result of a stroke in utero, she’s been diagnosed with a very mild case of Cerebral Palsy and has some weakness on her left side, but you would never know.”

Now an active grade one primary school student, Lexi’s favourite subject is maths. She is one of between 300 and 500 children who experience a stroke each year in Australia.

To mark National Stroke Week (August 8-14), Stroke Foundation is encouraging the community to learn the F.A.S.T (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) signs of stroke to ensure more people can receive the lifesaving treatment they need after stroke and will be able to enjoy more of life’s precious moments. For Lexi and her family, that was being able to ride her bike.

“We go to a caravan park and all the kids ride their bikes, because Lexi has some balance issues it was harder for her. But she was determined and she practiced every day for six months,” Mrs Abela said.

“We all cried when she did it, it was a really huge milestone and a great confidence boost for her.”

National Stroke Week is Stroke Foundation’s annual awareness campaign. You can support the campaign by sharing, retweeting or creating your own social media post on any platform. Learn and share the F.A.S.T. signs of stroke and call triple zero (000) straight away if you suspect a stroke.

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan said Lexi’s story proves strokes can happen to people of all ages.

“It’s a common misconception that only older people have strokes. An estimated 500 children experience a stroke every year in Australia and around a third of these strokes occur in children under one year of age,” Ms McGowan said.

“We know the faster an adult or child with stroke gets to hospital and receives medical treatment, the better their chance of survival and a good recovery.

“It’s inspiring to hear Lexi and her family were able to fulfil her wish of her being able to ride her bike with her sisters.”

The message from the Stroke Foundation is to think F.A.S.T and ask these questions:

Face – Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?

Arms – Can they lift both arms?

Speech – Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?

Time – Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call 000 straight away

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