A 7-year-old girl is donating her hair after her dad suffered a stroke which left him in intensive care for 25 days. Darcie, from Coalpit Heath, is raising funds to support her family whose ‘finances are going to be incredibly tight’ after the ‘shock’ stroke left them terrified their dad wouldn’t make it.
Darcie’s dad, Mark, 42, collapsed at home on January 3 after suffering a bleed on the brain. Darcie’s mum Zoe said this was a shock “not only due to his age but Mark was also fairly fit.” He was put into a medically-induced coma and taken straight to the intensive care unit at Southmead Hospital, where the family were told Mark had a “50/50 chance of survival.” Zoe said this was “terrifying” for her and their children Darcie and Isabelle, 11.
Mark spent 25 days in the ICU unit after a number of operations, before spending a further five weeks in the stroke unit. Zoe says Mark has since gone from “strength to strength” and has been discharged to a rehab centre to learn how to use his body again. But with Mark unable to work, and Zoe “currently going through the redundancy process,” the family became concerned about finances.
That’s when Darcie came up with the idea for a sponsored hair cut, not only to raise funds to support the family, but to donate her locks to the Little Princess Trust which makes wigs for children with cancer. She has set up a GoFundMe with a target to raise £700.
Zoe told BristolLive: “During the early hours of January 3, Mark collapsed in the family home after suffering a bleed on the brain at the age of 42. This was a shock, not only due to his age but Mark was also fairly fit. I knew it was a stroke as he had no movement with his left arm and leg and had problems speaking and communicating clearly.
“Unfortunately, due to the massive strain on the ambulance service, it took around five hours for an ambulance to arrive. As Mark was upstairs and due to the layout of our house, we couldn’t lift him or get him downstairs to drive him there ourselves. It took two ambulance crews to move him and carry him down and out to the ambulance.
“On Mark’s arrival at Southmead, we were told that he was very agitated and the doctors believed that it was best if he was put into a medically-induced coma in order for them to assess him fully and to protect his brain from further damage. He was taken straight to Southmead’s Intensive Care Unit. I was advised at this time that Mark had a 50/50 chance of survival. This was terrifying, especially with us having two children.
“Over the course of the first week, Mark under went three operations. One to insert a brain pressure monitor, a second to remove the clots from within his brain, and a third to insert a drain to to remove fluid building up within his skull. Whilst all three operations were deemed ‘successful,’ we had to wait a further three weeks of him being on a ventilator and sedated to find out the full extent of the brain damage that he had suffered. I had to endure really tough conversations about the extreme likelihood of Mark not being able to wake up and also if he did, the likelihood of him having severe brain damage.
“After 25 days in ICU Mark was fully awake from his sedation and breathing on his own. This was scary, Mark couldn’t talk and communicate properly and was extremely weak as expected. Mark spent a further 5 weeks at Southmead between the stroke ward and the neurological ward. During his stay at Southmead, he went from strength to strength and has managed to progress well. He can now speak really well and also has gained the ability to eat ‘normal’ foods again.
“Last week, Mark was discharged to hospital and in to a specialist brain injury rehab where he will spend many months learning how use his body and to walk again. His left leg is showing good signs of the start of movement but his left arm is currently immobile. Mark will undergo intensive physio and rehabilitation and we hope that he will make the best recovery possible so that he can come home to us.”
Zoe says it’s been an “extremely stressful time” for the family, who are worried finances are going to be incredibly tight.
She continued: “This is an extremely stressful time for us as a family. I am currently going through the redundancy process and will be out of work as of next week and as Mark is unable to work due to his stroke, finances are going to be incredibly tight.
“I have been as honest with both children about finances and this is where Darcie came up with the idea of a sponsored hair cut. Not only does Darcie want to raise funds to help to support us as a family but she wants to donate her hair to the Little Princess Trust. They will use her hair to make wigs for children who have cancer. Darcie is passionate about this as she lost her great grandmother to cancer and hates the idea of children having the same illness as her.”
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