7-year-old boy in the middle of a soccer match sits on mom's legs and collapses in her arms

Pedro Marrero
Oct 15, 2018
10:31 A.M.
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 A mother and her child were at a school soccer game one moment, and the next one the two were riding on a helicopter to try to save the boy’s life at a Cleveland hospital.

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When most of us think of someone having a stroke, we tend to imagine an elderly person, for people of an advanced age are often prone to illness. The last thing in our minds when thinking about this is a child suffering from this.

Nicole Cavall, the mother of 7-year-old Stephen Comer, will be the first to admit that before it happened to her son she had never heard of a pediatric stroke. It all changed on June 2 during an afternoon soccer game, as Cleveland Clinic reported.

Cavall and her child live in Mineral City, Ohio. While on a break from his soccer game, Comer, who, according to his mother “never had a medical problem in his life,” started to act strangely, showing signs that something was happening to him.

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“He laid down in front of me. He fell over, basically. I thought he was playing around. I told him, ‘You have to sit up and watch your teammates,’” Cavall said. Read more on our Twitter account @amomama_usa

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I didn’t take too long for the mother to find out that her son wasn’t able to sit up or talk. He was clutching at his face and could barely mumble.

Cavall wasted no time and rushed to take Comer to the Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital, which luckily was only two blocks away from the field.

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After visiting two medical centers and confirming that the child had suffered a stroke, Comer had to be airlifted to Cleveland, where a team of neurosurgeons was waiting for him to perform an urgent intervention on him.

Cavall might have never heard of a child having a stroke, but fortunately, she trusted her intuition and took her child’s symptoms seriously. Her quick reaction saved her son’s life.

“People generally aren’t aware of pediatric stroke and will attribute symptoms to a headache or almost anything else. That’s why the average [hospital] arrival time for a child with acute stroke is in excess of 24 hours after it takes place.”

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-Dr. Neil Friedman, Cleveland Clinic, September 24, 2018.

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Even with the join efforts of Cavall and the clinical staff, Comer received proper treatment eight hours after the stroke took place, but the procedure to remove the blood clot that had obstructed one of his main cerebral arteries was a success.

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“We kept seeing improvement, by the hour. By the next day, he was playing video games and drawing on whiteboard walls with dry erase markers,” a relieved Comer said.

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According to Dr. Friedman, it is normal for parents and even some medical professionals to be unaware of the risks of a child suffering from a stroke. After all, a relatively small number of cases of pediatric strokes take place every year.

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Most of these occurrences happen at the time of birth or shortly after. Such was the case for an 11-month-old who had a stroke following complications related to chickenpox, which he contracted from one of his siblings.

The baby hadn’t been vaccinated against the disease because he hadn’t turn 1-year-old yet, which is required to receive the vaccine. Nevertheless, this ordeal could have been prevented if the older brother had been vaccinated in the first place.

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