No one could’ve predicted that six-year-old Nevaeh Crews from Callahan would be at risk for stroke
Four years ago, Nevaeh’s father Doug was getting ready for bed when he heard his daughter making a strange noise. He rushed to her room and found that she couldn’t move her right side. He called 911 and Nevaeh was rushed to the Wolfson Children’s Emergency Center in Jacksonville. An MRI and cerebral angiogram revealed that Nevaeh had suffered a massive stroke and that there was significant narrowing of the cerebral artery on the left side of her brain.
A condition called Moyamoya syndrome had been lurking within her brain since birth. Its first symptom often is a stroke.
Many people associate stroke with older adults. However, although it’s rare, a child can have a stroke.
Nevaeh was in a medically induced coma for four days at Wolfson Children’s Hospital to allow her brain to heal and for the swelling to go down, reducing the risk of brain bleeding during surgery.
Pediatric neurosurgeon Philipp Aldana, MD, and neurovascular surgeon Ricardo Hanel, MD, PhD, performed a “brain bypass” surgery on Nevaeh, taking an artery from her scalp and placing it on the surface of her brain. “The artery branches into the brain to supply blood flow to the affected side,” explained Dr. Aldana. “The goal is to prevent another stroke.”
Only three days after surgery, Nevaeh was discharged from Wolfson Children’s to Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital for intensive therapy. She couldn’t walk or talk when she arrived.
Pediatric neurosurgeon Philipp Aldana, MD, diagnosed Nevaeh with Moyamoya syndrome, a condition in which the blood vessels inside the brain narrow over time.
Philipp Aldana, MD
Co-Medical Director, Wolfson Children’s Hospital Neuroscience Institute
Now 9 years old, Nevaeh is no longer confined to a wheelchair. While she has limited use of her right hand, she has taught herself to write with her left hand. She continues to do outpatient rehabilitation once a week.
Dr. Aldana recalled a follow-up visit at Wolfson Children’s Hospital Neuroscience Institute he had with Nevaeh two years after surgery. “She had lost the ability to speak due to the stroke, so hearing her voice for the first time at that visit was great! We are happy she is doing so well.”
Although Nevaeh doesn’t need a wheelchair anymore, she has gotten to use a specially equipped wheelchair to play Power Soccer through the Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program offered by Brooks Rehabilitation. The smile never left her face at her first practice as she zoomed around the Cuba Hunter Community Center and Gymnasium.