After Surviving Two Strokes Lia Dances for Kids Like Her

May 29, 2018

At just three years old, Lia Padilla endured not one but two strokes.

In 2017, Lia celebrated the New Year with family and friends but on January 2 she suffered a stroke. After being misdiagnosed by another hospital, Lia’s parents took her to Lurie Children’s where she was quickly and accurately diagnosed with MCA ischemic stroke, which causes sudden loss of blood circulation to an area in the brain. Lia was admitted into the Lefkofsky Family Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). “You never think of strokes when it comes to young children so it came as quite a shock to us but Lurie Children’s provided us immediate comfort despite the scary situation we were in,” says Lia’s mother, Betsy.

“Lia was acutely cared for by Lurie Children’s Neurocritical Care team in collaboration with our Lefkofsky Family Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), Emergency Department and Neurointerventional Radiology” says Andrea Pardo, MD, Attending Neurologist, Interim Medical Director, Ruth D. and Ken M. Davee Pediatric Neurocritical Care Program. “Lurie Children’s Neurocritical Care Program is the only pediatric neurocritical care program of its kind in the Chicago area and one of few programs nationally and internationally with the breadth, experience and expertise for treating children with strokes and other neurocritical conditions.”

She was making progress recovering despite the fact that she was battling an on-going fever. While in the PICU, Lia experienced her second stroke. Specialists at Lurie Children’s discovered she had a dissection in her left internal carotid artery, a separation of the layers of the artery wall that supply oxygen-bearing blood to the brain. Lia was in need of an emergency stent placement to help supply blood to her brain.

“Our doctors assured us that they were on it and she was going to be well taken care of. We knew immediately she was in good hands and signed off on the surgery,” says Betsy. The emergency procedure, performed by Ali Shaibani, MD, Chief of Neurointerventional Radiology, was a success. Immediately, Lia showed signs of improvement. The stent placement increased great blood flow and oxygen to her brain. Shortly after surgery, she began physical therapy right in the hospital and even took her first steps with Molly, the Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy dog. “The group of therapists were absolutely phenomenal with trying to get her motivated. They made her feel as comfortable as possible and really advocated for her.”

Lia suffered a few setbacks during her recovery including an allergic reaction to medications and laryngospasms, a possible weakness of her strokes, but since then, she has been well on her way to making a full recovery even dancing the day away at this year’s CHICAGO Dance Marathon.

In February, Lia and her family attended the 2018 Chicago Dance Marathon to support Lurie Children’s. In fact, Lia was one of this year’s Dance Marathon’s patient champions. “It was absolutely amazing and we were so humbled by the entire experience,” says Betsy. “We were blessed with so many selfless hearts and so many people wanting to know what happened to Lia and how Lurie Children’s helped us. We got to share our story. I was in awe. It was fantastic. It was nice to give back as our way of saying thank you.”

This year the Chicago Dance Marathon raised over $450,000 for the patients of Lurie Children’s. These funds will provide hope and healing to children like Lia. “To see Lia dance the day away and be just like any other kid only a year after surviving two strokes is nothing short of a miracle. We are forever grateful to Lurie Children’s and the care they provided our family,” says Betsy.

Learn More About Lurie Children's Neurocritical Care Program