12 year old New Hanover County girl saves father’s life thanks to refrigerator magnet

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A 12-year-old girl in New Hanover County is being hailed a hero after saving her father’s life all thanks to a refrigerator magnet.

Isabella Keksc says her dad drove her and her sister to the store on January 7. He walked in and put the groceries on the counter when they got home. Everything seemed fine until he started stumbling. Isabella and her siblings asked him to lie down. Then, Isabella asked him to try to speak and lift his arms.

“Usually, whenever you’re having a stroke one of your arms is going to be lower than the other arm,” Keksc said. “He did it and his arm, this arm, I think his left arm, it was lower than his right arm. By that time, I got scared so I called my mom because I’ve never called 911 before.”
Isabella’s mom called 911 and help arrived to take her dad to Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

“I have this magnet and it’s been on my fridge for a while. Whenever I’m in the kitchen, like I’m eating, I just read it over and over again for some reason. I don’t know why I did that,” she said.

For those who may not have a helpful magnet like Isabella, Wilmington Health Cardiologist and Electrophysiologist Dr. Craig McCotter says the acronym “FAST” is an easy way to remember the signs of a stroke. F stands for facial drooping, A stands for arm weakness, S stands for speech difficulty, and T for time.

“Time is brain cells. The amount of brain cells starts dying very very rapidly. So the sooner people can call 9-1-1 and get them the care they need is the best thing you can do,” McCotter said.

In addition to FAST, another huge warning sign can be a transient ischemic attack (TIA). McCotter explains this as a pre-stroke or mini-stroke. The symptoms are the same, but they may only last for a few minutes. For example, if someone’s arm goes numb for five to ten minutes but then feels better, McCotter says this could be a warning sign ahead of a major stroke.

McCotter says stroke and heart disease go hand in hand. Risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, and smoking.

As for Isabella and her father, McCotter says the outcome could have been very different had she not noticed the warning signs.

“The fact that she was able to recognize what was going on and activate the system is great. She is a true hero, and I think her family should be very, very proud of her,” McCotter said.

For more information on the warning signs of stroke, visit here. 

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