A LITTLE girl is lucky to be alive after suffering a stroke at the age of four,which may have been linked to an outbreak of chicken pox.

Sophie Fuller has been left with permanent brain damage and had to learn to walk and talk again after the medical emergency which was described as ‘very, very rare’ by doctors.

Her parents believe the stroke was linked to her having chicken pox in April, our sister title the Clydebank Post reports.

Research has shown chicken pox can increase the risk of ischaemic strokes in children, but only five out of every 100,000 youngsters each year has a stroke in the UK.

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Sophie’s family say they are ‘bursting with pride’ at how far she’s come since July even as she faces a lifetime ahead of risk of further strokes.

Mum Tracy, 33, said: “Four year olds don’t have strokes. We honestly felt we were going to lose her.

“We don’t know where we would be without the NHS. We would not have our daughter without everyone involved.”

Sophie had just turned four in April a few weeks after she got chicken pox. Everything was routine and the family had been on holiday in the weeks before the stroke hit just before noon on July 8.

She fell out of bed and her parents rushed to her side. Dad Edwin, 32, was holding her as it changed into a seizure.

The ambulance arrived quickly to their home in Robert Burns Avenue, North Drumry, and she was rushed to the Royal Hospital for Children.

Glasgow Times:

It took doctors two hours to stabilise her and she spent eight weeks in their care.

“We witnessed everything she went through,” said Tracy. “They told us to keep talking to her. All I wanted to know was whether she was going to be alright. But nobody could tell me.

“My husband realised how severe it was. It’s just the worst thing you can possibly imagine.”

Sophie takes blood thinning injections twice a day and the blood vessels are still very narrow.

And she struggles with her right arm, or as Sophie calls it, her “rubbish arm”. Tracy said that’s “heartbreaking”.

It has changed her in other ways too, with Sophie being more anxious, and more easily angry and frustrated.

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Tracy said: “It’s affected her mentally and physically. Sophie will always be at risk. We keep her in our bedroom and don’t let her sleep on her own - we’re petrified.

“But we’ve had so much support. This is going to be a long journey.

“This has completely changed our lives. You’re living every single day and you’re reminded what happened.”

Sophie, who also has the love and support of older siblings Courtney, 15, and Connor, 17, has returned to Linnvale Nursery but is only managing 45 minutes currently.

The family can’t do activities such as bowling because the noise now affects Sophie. She needs 24/7 care.

But they have also been amazed by her progress since the summer.

Glasgow Times:

“The strength she has shown, we have got to keep going for Sophie - she needs us to keep going,” said Tracy. “Every single day we get upset but we have to hide that from Sophie.

“One of the physios said it’s almost like a grieving process. It’s almost like you have lost your wee girl. She was a very head-strong girl. She still is.”

Sophie got a new bike for her birthday in April, which she loved, but is unable to use it because of how her right side was affected by the stroke and seizure. She now has an adapted tricycle to help her rediscover that enjoyment.

The Stroke Association said it is thought the virus behind chicken pox causes blood vessels in the head to narrow.

“Her consultant said this was a very, very rare case,” added Tracy. “No four-year-old should be experiencing this.

“Anyone can take a stroke at any age – I have learned so much.

Glasgow Times:

“She’s come so far in only four and a half months. We are so proud of the journey she’s been through, and we want to thank everyone who supported us.

“The hospital staff saved her life. We can’t thank them enough. We feel they are part of our family because of what they have done.”

Thanks to the Make A Wish Foundation, Sophie and her family are off to Disneyland Paris on December 7 so Sophie can meet her favourite character: Beast, from Beauty and the Beast.

The family made sure he was on her bedroom wall when Sophie returned home from hospital.