I am Sam, a pediatric stroke survivor raising funds to support the TGH Pediatric Rehabilitation Program. For my Bar Mitzvah project, I want to raise awareness about pediatric stroke and support the TGH team that helped me so much after my stroke.
Most people don’t realize that stroke is among the top 10 causes of death in children. Pediatric strokes may be missed because of lack of awareness. In older children, like me, the signs and symptoms of stroke are very similar to those in adults.
Even though pediatric stroke is a rare condition, each year in the United States it affects one in every 4,000 newborns and an additional 2,000 adolescents.
Between September 29, and International Stroke Awareness day on October 29, I will swim 2,000 lengths in my training pool to honor my fellow stroke survivors.
My goal is to raise $2,000 for the TGH Pediatric Rehabilitation Program.
I have been swimming for the past 5 years. When I suffered a stroke, the conditioning I gained on my swim team saved my life. I love to swim. Swimming makes me feel disconnected from the outside world, like nothing exists but me and my thoughts. Swimming the 2,000 lengths is important to me because it will show other stroke survivors that recovery is possible, and it will help me work towards my long term goal of becoming a Paralympic athlete.
Sam's TGH Story:
Two years ago, when Sam was just 10 years old, he woke up feeling nauseous and dizzy. Sam fell unconscious in the ambulance on the way to TGH and did not wake up for almost a week. With help from an amazing nursing team, an MRI found a blood clot in Sam's brainstem. A TGH surgeon performed an emergency embolectomy to remove the blood clot and save Sam’s life. We would not have Sam without the talented TGH surgeon and dedicated medical professionals who saved his life.
After the surgery, all we could do was wait and see. We didn’t know if Sam would ever wake up, ever breathe on his own, eat, move, or speak. Would we ever hear his voice again? Or see him smile?
The TGH Pediatric Rehabilitation Program gave Sam a chance to get his life back. When the stroke happened, the program was closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The program’s rehab equipment was in storage and its space was occupied by Covid-19 patients. The program's lead doctor and his team advocated to reopen the program for Sam. They pulled the rehab equipment out of storage, found space, and admitted Sam for in-patient intensive therapy.
Not every stroke patient is lucky enough to have access to the type of treatment Sam received in the Pediatric Rehab Program at TGH. Sam spent five weeks living in the hospital working six hours a day with physical, occupational, and speech therapists. Sam had to relearn everything. How to sit up, eat, drink, talk, walk, and move. After five weeks, Sam met his goal of walking out of the hospital. Today, Sam is 12 years old and in 7th grade. He swims five days a week with his swim team and remains dedicated to his recovery and to helping other pediatric stroke survivors get the same opportunity he was given.
Gifts to support Sam's project will go to the TGH Pediatric Rehabilitation Program Fund, which will help to fund ongoing education for staff, equipment, and supplies specific to the rehabilitation program. The Pediatric Rehabilitation program at TGH is a CARF accredited, family-centered program specializing in meeting the rehabilitation needs of infants, children and adolescents.