'Little son saved my life' Now mum's raising funds for stroke victims'
A young mother whose life was saved by her young son after she suffered a devastating stroke is stepping out to raise awareness of the issue.
Laura Harper fell ill last November, just 10 weeks after giving birth to her daughter Evie.
At what should have been an exciting time of her life, the 24-year-old from Bushmills, Co Antrim, was lying in hospital.
Her life was saved by her three-year-old son Leo, who spotted something wasn't right and got help.
On May 21, Laura will be taking part in the Stroke Association's Step out for Stroke.
Stroke survivors, friends and families will take part in a walk together to raise awareness and generate vital funds.
Laura, who worked in a chip shop in Bushmills, was an active mum with two young children before suffering the stroke.
She explained how a normal night ended with her fighting for her life.
"I was home alone with my two children. I was getting them ready for bed and had just put my daughter into her Moses basket and was heading back into the living room when I got a pins and needles sensation in my arm," she said.
"I couldn't move my arm or leg or even think how to move them. My arm was just hanging down my side.
"I tried to speak but the words wouldn't come out.
"My son, Leo, asked me what was wrong but I couldn't tell him. Luckily, he realised I wasn't well and ran to the front door to shout for help.
"My neighbour heard him and came running into the house. She tried to get me to drink a glass of water but I couldn't remember how to. She got in touch with my daughter's dad and when he arrived he called an ambulance."
Laura was taken to hospital, where doctors confirmed she had suffered a stroke.
She added: "My son saved my life. If he hadn't alerted my neighbour, I don't know how long I would have been on my own and the effects of my stroke could have been much worse."
Laura (right) said she developed epilepsy as a result of her stroke, and still suffers severe effects. "I can have up to three seizures in a week and I am on medication to try to treat this," she added. "As a result I cannot drive anymore which limits my independence. I am now very dependent on Evie's dad, Mark, and my parents for transport anywhere. My goal is to get my epilepsy under control so I can learn to drive again."
She added: "My stroke left me with one-sided weakness.
"I can't feel temperature which means I can't test the temperature of my children's bath unless there is someone with me. My stroke has also left me with balance issues - I cannot walk on uneven ground which means that it's nearly impossible to walk on the beach with my children like I used to.
"I've learnt to walk unaided but only for a short distance."
A stroke recovery coordinator from the Stroke Association visited Laura within a week of leaving hospital to offer support.
On May 21, she will take part in Step out for Stroke, a family fundraising event open to everyone.
The charity is calling on people to register now and take part alongside local stroke survivors and their families.
- Step out for Stroke in Antrim takes place on May 21 at 2pm. To find out more information, visit the website www.stroke.org.uk/stepout