A 16-year-old Douglas County girl is spending this summer working on her skills. But instead of brushing up on courses like other high school students, Molly Ogden is relearning how to walk and talk after suffering a debilitating stroke last fall.
The Lawrence Journal World reports Ogden's mother found her the morning of Nov. 5 in the bathroom unable to speak and the right side of her face drooping. She was rushed to Lawrence Memorial Hospital and then taken to the Kansas University Hospital where she was placed in a coma and a clot was removed.
Prospects for survival were slim, doctors said.
"She's just an extremely beautiful girl, very talented, athletic, popular, smart. She just had everything going for her," said her father, Brad. "For her to know what she's lost and still be able to maintain such a good attitude and keep a smile on her face is what sticks out to me more than anything. Most people, this would probably just crush their spirits."
Doctors aren't certain what caused Ogden to suffer the stroke, though her parents blame a blow to the head she took the day before while playing football. While doctors don't disagree, they also point to the open-heart surgery she had as an infant and a condition she suffers from that make her susceptible to blood clots.
Stroke is among the top 10 causes of childhood deaths in the United States. An estimated 3,000 to 6,000 children suffer strokes each year, but it is still rare enough that parents and doctors can overlook or misdiagnose symptoms.
The blood clot she suffered in November cut off the blood supply to her brain. The damage revealed by X-rays shows that as much as 40 percent of her brain is gone and has been replaced by spinal fluid.
"She had a very large stroke, but fortunately she's young and doesn't have a lot of other medical problems," said Colleen Lechtenberg, director of KU Hospital's Comprehensive Stroke Center. "Considering the size of her stroke, I think her recovery is well ahead of what I would hope and dream of."
While her recovery hasn't been certain, Ogden has already beaten predictions of when she would resume walking and talking.
The illness has caused the family to juggle their busy lives with providing for Ogden's care. They operate a painting business and ranch, and her mother, Alison Ogden, is also manager of a clothing store in Lawrence.
Alison Ogden calls her daughter's stoke "a totally life-changing event."
The recovery process is frustrating. She speaks one word at a time in most cases, sometimes calling her dad "Mom" and vice versa.
After stints in a rehabilitation hospital in Nebraska, Ogden returned home in February and was able to return to school in April. She started going just a few days a week, easing back into the routine and continuing her rehabilitation and therapy in Kansas City. After catching up on courses this summer, Ogden hopes to return to the classroom fulltime in the fall.
"Our staff has done a nice job of integrating her," said Baldwin City High School principal Rob McKim. "We're willing to do whatever we can — all the staff and all the students — to help her in the recovery process."