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Teen Stroke Survivor Credits Dad’s Quick Thinking, Speedy Treatment

By Kathy Walsh

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– Many associate stroke with senior citizens. In fact, the majority of strokes do occur in people over the age of 65, but 16-year-old Emma Williams from Denver is proof that anyone can have a stroke. She is also proof that the faster the treatment, the better the outcome.

“I want you to point to which fingers are wiggling,” Dr. Andra Dingman, pediatric neurologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado, told Williams during a recent office visit.

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Dr. Andra Dingman with Emma Williams (credit: CBS)

The teenager was able to follow doctor’s orders with ease. It was amazing to see how strong she is, considering just a month ago, Williams had a stroke.

“I don’t remember actually having it,” Williams told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

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CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh interviews Emma Williams (credit: CBS)

But the teen has been told she was with her father when she dropped her phone and didn’t pick it up.

“And then I tried to get out of the car and unbuckle the seat belt and I couldn’t and that’s when he realized something was wrong,” she said.

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(credit: CBS)

The Williams rushed to Children’s Hospital.

“She couldn’t lift her arm and she couldn’t lift her leg,” said Dingman who saw her at Children’s.

Scans showed Williams had a blood clot in her brain.

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(credit: CBS)

She was rushed across the street to the University of Colorado Hospital for an intercranial thrombectomy. Neuro-interventionalist Dr. David Case was able to thread catheters through blood vessels directly to the clot.

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Neuro-interventionalist Dr. David Case (credit: CBS)

“And then carefully remove that blood clot to restore blood flow to the brain,” Case said.

It was about three hours from the onset of the stroke to the operation.

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CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh interviews Neuro-interventionalist Dr. David Case. (credit: CBS)

“The quicker you can treat strokes, the better patients can do from it,” explained Case.

Four weeks after her stroke, Williams went to prom.

“My goal was to make it to prom and I did it,” she said with a smile.

Her father’s quick thinking made all the difference.

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Emma Williams (credit: CBS)

“I thank my dad a lot for what he did. It could have gone so wrong in so many different ways,” Williams said.

Williams is being treated for thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) which is a rare blood disorder. In TTP, blood clots form in small blood vessels throughout the body and can cause a stroke.

UCHEALTH.ORG LINK: Learn About The Signs Of Stroke

Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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