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It turns out that stroke, by some estimates, is the sixth leading cause of death in infants and children, reports Jonathan Dienst in the New York Times.
Experts say doctors and hospitals need to be far more aggressive in detecting and treating it.
“Front-line providers need to have stroke on their radar screen as a possible cause of sudden neurologic illness in children,” says Dr Rebecca N Ichord, director of the pediatric stroke program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Dr Heather J Fullerton is even more emphatic. “When a child comes into an emergency room with stroke-like symptoms it should be considered a stroke unless proved otherwise.” Fullerton is a leading stroke researcher at the University of California at San Francisco.
Slurred speech, droopy left eye, stiffness, sudden inability to walk or even stand on his own, were the symptoms presented by Jared Dienst, the writer’s son, on Monday, June 23, 2008.
If an adult had come into an emergency room with similar symptoms, the staff might have quickly picked up these classic signs of stroke. But this patient was 7.
Dienst was asked if his son had eaten poison, if he suffered from seizures. The answers were no.
Jared would face months of treatment and rehabilitation. The family sought out top specialists at hospitals around five states.
Jared received exceptional treatment and support and compassion from medical teams at four hospitals — Cornell, Children’s of Philadelphia, UCSF and NYU — as well as from hematology and genome researchers at Mass General and Yale.
But no one could pinpoint what caused Jared’s stroke.
The Diensts had an excellent insurance plan. They often wonder about other children in Jared’s place —
children who lack resources afforded to well educated families with ample insurance, or whose parents may lack the confidence to press medical teams for answers.
This is why Jonathan Dienst wanted to share this article.
For the entire article, outlining the days and months of Jared’s treatment and the impact of these events on their family, visit http://tinyurl.com/yecv37q.
sole source: Jonathan Dienst’s article in Science Times on 1/19/09. www.nytimes.com.
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