A schoolgirl is lucky to be alive after spending three weeks in a coma when a birthmark on her brain “popped like a balloon”.
Rachel Cunningham spent more than three nail-biting weeks in a coma earlier this year after suffering a brain haemorrhage on her way to school.
The brave 12-year-old had complained of a headache just hours before she collapsed and was admitted into surgery by lunchtime so surgeons could extract a blood clot.
Doting dad Shane Rainey, 30, who got on a plane from Northern Ireland to see his daughter, said: “My mum left me a note telling me to go to the airport immediately.
“Rachel had a clot in her brain that they had to extract.
“She had complained of headaches before but there were no signs whatsoever that this was on the cards.
“It was a birthmark sitting on her brain and there was a tangle of veins and arteries on top of it.
“The birthmark just popped like a balloon.”
Rachel, from Catford, south east London, was left in a coma for 23 days after her operation and she was joined by mum Deborah Cunningham, 34, for five weeks in intensive care.
When she woke up the youngster was unable to walk, eat or talk and could only communicate by wiggling her toes or squeezing her parents’ hand for several weeks.
Now, more than eight months after her collapse, she is unable to walk and is having ongoing neuro-rehabilitation.
Shane said: “It is hard to know what will happen.
“Her recovery has been quicker than the hospital expected.
“I’m quite confident she will walk again – it’s just a matter of when.
“It could be months down the line or even years.”
He added: “She’s particularly feisty and has that want to improve.
“When she was at Kings’ we had to correct her posturing every 30 seconds or her head would just drop and now it’s more like every 20 minutes.
“Her willingness to push herself makes a huge difference.”