Talia Hay has an explanation for the scar on her head: “I’m going to tell everyone I am a ninja.”
And after you hear how she’s fought for her health, you will believe her. You’ll also understand why Talia was selected to be the 2016-2017 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals North Dakota Champion.
On Sept. 9, Talia started her seventh day as a high school freshman like it was any other day. She was walking to class when her head started pounding with sudden and excruciating pain. By the time she made it to the school nurse’s office, she was unresponsive and incoherent. She was rushed by ambulance to a local Grand Forks hospital.
At the hospital, a CT scan showed Talia had blood on her brain and needed a specialist. She was transported by Sanford AirMed to Sanford Children’s Hospital in Fargo and rushed into surgery while her parents, Alfonso and Michelle Hay, drove the distance. Talia likely wouldn’t have survived the trip to Minneapolis – the next closest children’s hospital.
The Hays waited and worried for six hours before seeing their daughter again. They learned Talia had experienced an aneurysm-type event caused by an AVM (arteriovenous malformation), a tangle of abnormal and poorly formed blood vessels in her brain.
That day, she underwent two surgeries. Before the second, Talia’s doctors told her parents she might not be the same after surgery. She might not be able to speak or do the things she loved. She might not survive.
“That was like, the scariest part for me and my wife,” Alfonso said. “She’s going to leave us,” his wife, Michelle, thought at the time. “That just kept going over and over in our heads.”
They weren’t ready to let her go, Michelle said. They wanted more time.
And they got it.
Talia woke up without the deficiencies her doctors and parents feared.
Then after 11 days in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Talia walked out of the Sanford Children’s Hospital. Not many can say that after experiencing such trauma– maybe not even a ninja.
“This kid just fought every day,” Michelle said of her daughter.
She has a large scar from 60 staples and her hair remains short after her head was shaved for surgery, but Talia is healthy again.
Michelle and Alfonso are thankful to their doctors and nurses at Sanford Children’s Hospital who saved their daughter.
“The fact that this care was available to us means a lot,” Michelle said.
Talia still takes daily anti-seizure medication to prevent future complications, but she can live a completely normal life.
Her parents say she acts like nothing even happened. They describe Talia as sarcastic, nonchalant, sensitive, funny and stubborn but very loving all at the same time. At 5 feet 9 inches, Talia likes to play basketball, but she also spends her time listening to music, drawing and spending time with her friends (who are often more concerned about her health than she is).
“Talia would say we pay attention to her way too much now,” Alfonso said.
But we think she deserves that attention.
Every year, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals identifies a child with a remarkable medical story from each state, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. These “Champions” serve as the face for the millions of children treated at CMN Hospitals every year.
To learn more about the Children’s Miracle Network in Fargo or to make a gift, visit us here.
Other stories you might be interested in: