When a "Mighty Mouse" of a toddler suddenly lost the ability to walk, her mum knew it was serious.

Lucianne O'Shaughnessy, of Pt Chevalier in Auckland, said they were at the home of 2-year-old Alanna's paternal grandmother.

"She was being really clingy … and wouldn't go on the floor. She couldn't walk; she crawled at a 45-degree angle.

"I just knew something was seriously wrong straight away and [I was in an] absolute panic but tried to stay calm at the same time so as not to freak out Mousie or my 4-year-old daughter."


Alanna - nicknamed Mighty Mouse after she was born premature - was taken to the Starship children's hospital where she had a raft of tests and was admitted to the intensive care unit. She had suffered a series of four strokes that started last April.

The strokes were caused by blockages that resulted from two tears in the blood supply to the base of the brain. The cause of the tearing is unknown.

"She could've fallen over, she could have been playing roly-poly, she could have just sat down in a hard way and that could have done it," said O'Shaughnessy.

"She does have a thin blood supply up to the base of her brain. It's quite common … but the fact she had a stroke is incredibly rare."

"When she was released from hospital she was put on two types of medication [including] clopidogrel to make her blood less sticky but that left her open to the risk of internal bleeding.

"Any knocks she had, especially to her head, we always had to take her back to Starship emergency. We spent a lot of time up there with her being under observation.

An MRI was planned for three months after Alanna's strokes, but days beforehand she had some "concerning symptoms", which led to the scan being done earlier. One of the tears had enlarged.

"It was the worst news we could have hoped for. Thankfully [our specialist] Melinda Nolan was immensely kind and immensely calm and reassured us that it could have happened and got bigger at any point along those three months we were trying to adjust her medication.


"There are no guidelines for clopidogrel for 2-year-olds, because it's such an uncommon thing to happen."

Later scans showed Alanna's condition was stable and now she is off clopidogrel and taking only aspirin.

She is likely to have another scan in June and if that too finds she is stable, she will be discharged from hospital care.

Alanna has regained the ability to walk.

"She is doing really well. You wouldn't know that she had had a stroke," O'Shaughnessy said.

"As a family, we are just in awe of how well Mousie has done and the courage that she's shown."

"We have to be really careful with her. She can't do anything that would cause her to hyper-extend her neck and cause further injury, [such as] gymnastics."

O'Shaughnessy said the care provided by Starship was amazing and Alanna had also been supported by the Young Stroke Thrivers Foundation.

O'Shaughnessy's mother, Patsy Holt, has set up a givealittle fundraiser seeking donations for the stroke foundation and the Starship Foundation.

Holt says on the page: "To honour [Alanna's] spirit and courage and as a way of saying thank you to her amazing medical team and a supporting charity, I am planning to run my first ever marathon …………. at the age of 73."

"I started training in October 2017, just five months ago and at the start struggled to run 5km, but my goal is to run the Rotorua Marathon, which is 42km, on the 5th May this year."