Meet Takondwa – Stroke at age 18 months

Takondwa’s story comes from Malawi.

Takondwa was 18 months old when she had her stroke on December 18, 2019. It was caused by a viral infection which led to a blood clot. Takondwa’s ischemic stroke resulted in her having right-sided hemiplegia. Her stroke diagnosis was delayed by 7 days and was only discovered by a CT scan. Originally the doctors thought she had severe malaria.

Being born in Malawi, the health system only lets a patient move to a secondary or tertiary hospital through an established written referral. When Takondwa had her first signs of stroke, she was rushed to a district hospital which is considered a primary health care provider in the Malawi’s heath system. At the district hospital no health practitioner thought it would be a stroke, as they do not think of stroke in children, perhaps due to lack of awareness or the uncommonness of such cases and limited treatment. Having stayed on anti-malarial drug (although malaria tested negative) for 7 days without any change she was then given a referral to the central hospital (in another district) for an MRI scan. Unfortunately, the MRI machine wasn’t working at the time. The only option left was for her to undergo a CT scan, but the machine was only available at a privately owned hospital which was quite expensive. Since we had no other option, we went to the hospital and that’s when we were told Takondwa had suffered a stroke.

After the diagnosis, she was immediately discharged from the hospital and prescribed blood thinners. She had to go through physiotherapy sessions at least twice a week. Because the cost for therapy was high, I had to do most of the physical therapies at home using YouTube videos. I also used what I had learned from the physiotherapist. We had the opportunity to meet the pediatric neurologist at a private hospital twice after her stroke. We feel fortunate that everything worked out and is going well for Takondwa in her recovery process.

Takondwa is now 2 years 3 months old and has made a noticeable recovery! She is able to do almost everything children of her age do, although she still struggles. But she is always ready to prove what a fighter she is and every day Takondwa continues to make progress in her recovery. As her mother, I try to do all I can to raise awareness about pediatric stroke and advocate for Takondwa and other children who have had strokes. I especially want to help raise the importance of knowing, recognizing, and identifying the symptoms of stroke in children for early diagnosis in the medical community and the general public.

TAKONDWA in our local language means ‘WE ARE GLAD’ and we really are glad to have our warrior.

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