Theresa’s Story

Marc Campbell, father of Theresa Garvey Campbell, a former patient of Franciscan Hospital for Children, faced the worst nightmare any parent could imagine. Over a year ago, Theresa suffered a sudden stroke that left her with paralysis in the right side of her face and leg.

Marc faced the worst nightmare any parent could imagine.

“At age 11, Theresa was a vibrant, energetic girl who loved the outdoors. Swimming, softball, ice skating and horse riding are just a few of the sporting activities she enjoyed,” Marc recalled, with the delight of a proud father.

“After complaining of a pain in her jaw and neck, she asked to lie down. I made sure she was comfortable and went downstairs to print some photos off the computer. A few minutes later, I heard moaning from upstairs and rushed back to find Theresa on the floor, bleeding from her nose,” he continued, vividly recalling the day of Theresa’s stroke.

He called 911, and ten minutes later, the Paramedics arrived. Theresa was then taken to a Cape Cod Hospital where doctors informed Marc that Theresa had a tumor located at the base of her cerebellum that had burst directly into her stem. She was gravely ill, and needed a hole drilled into her brain to relieve the pressure.

Marc had immediately made the decision to have Theresa airlifted to Children’s Hospital Boston where she was put into an induced coma. Theresa’s condition remained critical for the first few days, and after about five days, Theresa came out of her coma.

Doctors performed a CAT scan, an MRI, and an Angiogram to verify the cause of Theresa’s stroke. Theresa was diagnosed with Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM), an abnormal connection between arteries and veins that is believed to be congenital.

“The care that Theresa received at Franciscan was exemplary.”

Given the complexity of her injury, doctors assessed the outcomes of treating the AVM versus non-treatment. Dr. Edward R. Smith, Director of Pediatric Cerebrovascular Surgery at Children’s Hospital Boston says, “The hardest thing about treating an AVM is weighing the option of aggressive treatment such as surgery or radiation, against the possibility of any remnant disability for the patient in question.”

While treatment to address Theresa’s AVM directly was deferred, she underwent surgery to have a tracheotomy tube and a feeding tube inserted to facilitate her rehabilitation. She was then referred to Franciscan Hospital for Children where she began rehabilitation.

According to Dr. Smith, decisions on rehabilitation are based on variables such as a patient’s age, the location of the AVM, and specific treatment rendered.

At Franciscan, Theresa began her rehabilitation process. “The care that Theresa received at Franciscan was exemplary. She received Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy to help her regain functionality,” Marc said.

Theresa progressed from not being able to lift her head when she first arrived, to slowly regaining function in her limbs.

Theresa forged close relationships with her caregivers at Franciscan.

Theresa returned to Children’s Hospital Boston to have a shunt installed in her head a month later, in order to relieve fluid pressure that had built up. As she went through her treatment, Theresa forged close relationships with her caregivers at Franciscan. These connections are still very strong today – a clear demonstration of the individualized care that patients receive.

Today, Theresa, who turned twelve on April 23, 2011, is back in school and no longer relies on her wheelchair and walker for mobility, nor does she rely on a tracheotomy tube to breathe. Theresa celebrates milestones like walking up and down the stairs without any assistance or the help of her walker. Her teachers have always been impressed by her achievements in her studies, but are even more so now. She has caught up on the lessons she missed with the help of extra tutoring, and remains a bright student with a large circle of friends and admirers.

Now off her feeding tube, Theresa has no limitations when it comes to eating. While her injury has presented new challenges for her to overcome, both Marc and Theresa are optimistic about a full recovery.

Asked if she remembers her injury, Theresa’s answer is that she has only some memory of it. “It was always scary, but I’m glad that I’m moving forward every day.”

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