Gift of Health. Holiday winter theme image.

Suffering a Stroke While Pregnant

Stephanie Hickey & Iris smile for a photo.

Stephanie Hickey suddenly lost strength on the left side of her body on April 29, 2018. The 34-year-old from Hamilton was six-months pregnant, and the safety of her unborn child was foremost on her mind as her limp body began to collapse.

“Luckily, my partner caught me on my way down and gently rested me on the floor,” says Stephanie. “He called 9-1-1 and the ambulance rushed me to Hamilton General Hospital.”

Emergency surgery

A CT scan revealed that she suffered a stroke and required immediate treatment.

“I couldn’t believe this was happening to me,” recalls Stephanie. “I thought that only older people had strokes.”

The use of clot-busting medication was considered, but it came with a risk of excessive bleeding that could be detrimental to the pregnancy. After consulting with obstetrics at McMaster University Medical Centre, clot-retrieval surgery was determined to be the safest option for both her and the baby.

Little did Stephanie know at the time that she was making medical history. Not only was she the first person in Hamilton to undergo a clot-retrieval procedure when pregnant, but she was one of the first in the world.

Bouncing back

“I was so relieved when they told me they removed the clot and my baby didn’t suffer from any side effects,” says Stephanie. “After surgery, my left hand felt tingly and I couldn’t walk as quickly as I normally could. My brain was learning how to use the left side of my body again.”

Stephanie recovered at Hamilton General Hospital for three days before being discharged.

“I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. I thought that only older people had strokes.”

“For about a month after the stroke, I suffered from some neurological deficits. Finding words was tricky at times and it was overwhelming to be in a loud room with a lot of people talking at the same time. It took about three months before I started to feel like my old self again.”

Stephanie, her partner and two daughters pose for a photo in the park.

Stephanie with her family

The greatest gift

Baby Iris was born healthy and happy at McMaster University Medical Centre on July 22.

“It’s miraculous that my stroke didn’t result in any complications to my pregnancy,” says Stephanie. “Iris and I are both doing well. Thanks to the amazing care I received, I can watch her grow up. There’s no better gift than that.”