“Little star” Tegan Mulby (9) was just 18 months old when her dad Lee Mulby (30) died from a brain haemorrhage.
Her mum, Mrs Lindsay Stack (34), of Hargrove Avenue, Burnley, said: “When Tegan was six she got poorly and at first I thought it was a virus.
“She was sleeping a lot and vomiting and as the week went on she was getting worse not better.”
After a week Mrs Stack took Tegan to the Accident and Emergency Department at Burnley General Hospital.
“I had deja vu. Everything that had happened with Lee was exactly the same.”
After a 24-hour vigil at her daughter’s bedside, Mrs Stack demanded Tegan have an MRI scan to check for bleeding on the brain.
The results revealed her worst fears.
“The consultant took me into a side room and I knew straight away as I could see from the scan picture.
“I just broke down. I’d already lost her dad and couldn’t believe this was happening to my baby.”
Tegan had had a massive brain haemorrhage which had caused a stroke. She was rushed to Pendlebury Children’s Hospital, Manchester, where she was kept under sedation and given medication to reduce pressure in her brain.
Medics at Pendlebury told Mrs Stack Tegan had a condition called cavernous malformation of the brain – a cluster of abnormal, enlarged blood vessels – which caused the bleeding. They said the cluster was too close to the centre of the brain to operate.
She was discharged from hospital but 15 months later, just when her family thought Tegan was on the road to recovery, she was struck down with a second haemorrhage and stroke.
Back in Pendlebury doctors said the cluster had doubled in size within two months. They warned Mrs Stack that if Tegan did not have surgery, the next time she had a bleed she could die or be left severely brain damaged.
Through the internet Mrs Stack made contact with an American professor from the University of Boston who offered to perform the surgery. But time was running out for Tegan and the life-saving 11-hour operation was performed at Pendlebury under the expert care of consultant Mr Kamaly.
Her mum said: “They told me Tegan would be on a ventilator after the operation and would be in intensive care for four days so I prepared myself. But when she came out of theatre she was breathing on her own.”
After three weeks Tegan was allowed home to her mum, step-dad Kevin Stack (31), brother Lynden (14) and sister Morgan (3) and began her rehabilitation. The operation left her partially sighted in her right eye and partially paralysed down her right side.
She had to learn to walk again and, with the support of her family and staff and pupils at St Stephen’s Primary School where she is a pupil, is able to live a happy normal life. She will have to go for hospital check-ups once a year to make sure the cluster has not regrown.
Her proud mum added: “It doesn’t matter what you throw at her, she just bounces back.
“Whatever she’s gone through she’s just determined. It doesn’t stop her doing anything. Her fighting spirit got her through. Because of how she is and what she had to go through she’s got this special understanding and empathy for other disabled people.”
To celebrate Tegan’s remarkable recovery her grandma Mrs Pat Allen has organised a party for family and friends this weekend where a collection will be held for St Stephen’s school funds.
Mrs Stack said: “I’m excited about the future now. I always thought Tegan would be in a bubble where she couldn’t go anywhere. She can live a normal life now. I just felt like she was a ticking time bomb. She’s had to battle for most of her little life.
“Tegan is bubbly, full of life and she doesn’t let anything get in her way.
“I just think she’s so brave and she’s an inspiration to others. She’s a little star.”