Age 8 Daughter Home Early from School, Senses Danger as Mom Falls to Floor Paralyzed


Christie Cunningham, 35, had a hole in her heart. This hole doesn’t metaphorically refer to heartbreak in her life, but a physical hole of which she was unaware.

She also was initially unaware that her daughter’s early arrival home from school one day in September would play a major role in her life being saved that day. Kailey George, 8, was at Vision Charter School when she felt unwell.

Cunningham decided she would leave work to pick up her daughter early from school. They arrived home, and one would suspect that Kailey would be the person needing care and medical attention.

Instead, it was Cunningham. Her back began to hurt.

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Cunningham grabbed a foam roller. While using the roller to ease her back pain, she fell on the ground.

Kailey approached her mother, sensing danger. The second-grader noticed her mom’s drooping mouth and strange way of talking.

Cunningham, a nurse, simply thought she needed to be more hydrated. Her daughter brought her water, and then had an important question for her.

According to the Idaho Press-Tribune, Kailey asked Cunningham, “Are you playing tricks?” when the unconcerned mom couldn’t use her own arm to drink the water. She wasn’t playing tricks, but she wasn’t aware of the severity of what she was experiencing.

Cunningham was paralyzed and having a stroke. This stroke wasn’t a complication of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or smoking.

It was because of the hole in her heart. A blood clot had moved through the hole and to her brain.

Cunningham wasn’t picking up on all of the signs of the stroke that her 8-year-old was, and therefore, didn’t want her daughter to call 911. Kailey knew she needed to call somebody, though, so she called her dad.

He called 911 after hearing Cunningham’s speech. Fortunately, she survived the stroke, but is keenly aware that things could have been much worse had the stroke happened under different circumstances.

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The hole in her heart was filled during a surgery. Before the surgery, Cunningham was on blood thinners, and afterwards she’ll have to take baby aspirin for the rest of her life.

A Life Saving Award was presented to Kailey in front of police officers, paramedics, and classmates.

Kailey was in the right place at the right time to act bravely and quickly. It’s amazing that the young girl was able to recognize that something was wrong, when even her mother, a medical professional, was unable to recognize her own symptoms.

Many factors, including the timing of the stroke being while Cunningham was at home near the ground already and her daughter’s recognition that something was wrong, all played a role in the positive outcome.

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Carolyn Fultz is a former contributor for Liftable Media. She holds a B.A. in Communication from Hope College.
Carolyn Fultz is a former contributor for Liftable Media. She holds a B.A. in Communication from Hope College. Carolyn's writing has been featured in both online and print media, including Just Between Us magazine. She resides in Phoenix with her husband and children.
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