When Carrie Stephenson heard that a seventh grader at her school was sick, she assumed it was the stomach flu that had been going around. In just two days, she'd already seen three students catch it.
But when the Jackson, Tennessee, school nurse looked at Isaiah Griffin, she changed her mind. Instead of sending him home, Stephenson decided to send him to the hospital. That decision saved his life.
As The Jackson Sun reports, when Stephenson was called to help 14-year-old Isaiah, she didn't know exactly what was wrong. But she was sure it wasn't stomach flu. The middle school student kept losing consciousness, his eyes were “rolling around,” and his vomit looked strange to her. Stephenson told the Sun:
“I honestly thought he was fixin’ to die.”
Knowing that something was seriously wrong, the school nurse had staff call an ambulance, and she sat with Isaiah. She monitored his breathing and blood pressure, and worked to keep him from falling asleep. She also tried to stay calm and prevent the other staff from panicking. As she told the Sun:
“I treated Isaiah like he was my own child.”
He was immediately airlifted to LeBonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis. It was only when Isaiah got to the hospital that the seriousness of his condition became apparent. Isaiah had a blood clot only an inch from his brain and was having a stroke.
For his mother, who had set out to pick him up at school, but ended up driving to a hospital in another city, it was a terrifying experience. Deborah Griffin told the Sun:
“I was driving, crying and praying. It was the longest drive. I thought I would never get there.”
The news when Griffin arrived at her son's bedside wasn't good. Doctors told her that Isaiah only had a 50% chance of survival. As devastating as that was to hear, Griffin knew that he would have had no chance at all if it weren't for his school nurse. As she told WMC News:
“For her quick thinking and for what she did and stuff, Isaiah would not have been here. ... I could have been planning a funeral. He could have not seen his 14th birthday.”
While she waited to learn if her son would make it, Griffin got a phone call from Stephenson, asking if they could pray together for Isaiah. And when Isaiah woke up, Stephenson came to visit him.
The nurse told the Sun that she asked Isaiah if he remembered her. He did, saying:
“You’re the lady that helped me. You grabbed my cheeks and told me I was going to be OK.”
With Isaiah now on the mend, his family is adamant that Stephenson saved his life. However, Stephenson told the Sun that she was only doing her job:
“To me it was just the grace of God showing through. God was all over that.”
Griffin believes that Stephenson was part of her family's miracle. As she told the Sun:
“It was just God that put her there.”
Isaiah, who was afraid he would die, says that he's grateful to be given a second chance at life.
According to the National Stroke Association, pediatric stroke is among the top ten causes of death in children. However, because children have trouble communicating their distress, the usual stroke symptoms might be overlooked. In addition to using the FAST warning signs (drooping Face, inability to raise both Arms, slurred or strange Speech, Time to call 911), they recommend watching for the following symptoms:
- Severe Headaches
- Loss of Balance/Coordination
- (In infants) - Seizures, tendency to use only one side of the body
If a child demonstrates any of these or the FAST symptoms, seek medical treatment immediately.
Now that her son's prognosis is good, his mother is ready to celebrate. As Griffin told the Sun:
"This is going to be one of the best Christmases. Ms. Carrie has given me a gift.
She adds: “It’s just the most precious gift she could have given me.”