Infant stroke survivor Oliver Michael

Updated:Nov 27,2012

This story is shared by Rose Stephan, senior director of Cultural Health Initiatives at our Founder’s Affiliate in Amherst, New York.

Baby OliverI became a first-time grandmother in December 2007 and traveled on an emergency flight to Hawaii to be with my daughter and new grandson. We were told that Oliver Michael suffered two strokes less than 24 hours after he was born.

A very observant and well-trained nurse noticed a quivering in his limb and immediately whisked him away. Less than one hour later, medical personnel came back with devastating news — Oliver had suffered an ischemic stroke and a hemorrhagic stroke, and his future was very uncertain. Thank God they were small-vessel strokes, but they were strokes all the same.

Oliver is doing remarkably well, and every day we watch him do things that we were told he may never do. I know we owe so much to the grace of God and millions of prayers.

I also know that advances in science and guidelines for immediate diagnosis were vital to the early detection and treatment that benefited Oliver. As I walked out into the lobby of the Kaiser Hospital in Hawaii, I saw a glass-enclosed cabinet. In it was a plaque from the American Stroke Association that designated them as a Get With The Guidelines Stroke Center. I was never so happy to see a familiar name as I was that day!

I realized that the work that I have been doing every day for the last 6½ years in the Buffalo/Niagara region may have saved a child, or adult, just like it helped my Oliver. That is the moment that I knew that I had been listening to God’s plan for me, and my crazy work schedules and level of commitment to this organization and cause has been well-spent energy.

Read more stories about children who have survived strokes.