Christmas joy for miracle girl who suffered a stroke at three
Mabel Munoz fell ill during a festive shopping trip with her dad Harry last year. When the then-three-year-old began vomiting, her worried dad rushed her home thinking she had developed food poisoning. As little Mabel's condition worsened, he phoned for an ambulance.
Her mum Tracy arrived at their home in Teignmouth, Devon, from work to find Mabel lying at the bottom of the stairs, limp and with her eyes rolling back.
"My first thought was that she had fallen down the stairs," Tracy said, "The ambulance men knew straight away. When she got to Torbay Hospital they did an MRI scan and sent it to Frenchay in Bristol. They said 'We want her here now'."
"When I heard she was going in a helicopter I knew how serious it was," Tracy said, adding that she and Harry had to race to the hospital in Bristol by car because an anaesthetist had to travel with Mabel in the helicopter, keeping her in an induced coma.
Her devastated parents say they did not know if their little girl would dead or alive by the time they got to Frenchay.
Mabel had suffered a bleed on her brain which left doctors fearing permanent brain damage.
"The transfer time was critical. With strokes from the point of collapsing you only get about three hours to eradicate the bleed and stop it spreading," Tracy said.
The family waited at Mabel's bedside for her to come around from the coma - and to find out whether or not the bleed would have left her permanently disabled.
"I sat by her side and didn't know if she would recognise me or would be able to speak," says Tracy, "She opened her eyes and looked at me and said 'I'm hungry'. They brought her some toast and she was only using her right hand side, but I knew she was still my Mabel when she said 'That's yummy yum pots'."
A year on, the family are now looking forward to making up for last year's lost Christmas.
"We just feel so thankful. Every time I cuddle her I think 'What would I have done without her?' We keep saying all the time that it's going to be a good Christmas this year. It could have been so different."