A hero four-year-old saved her mum’s life after she collapsed with a near-fatal brain bleed.
Sonya Jones, 46, was woken at 4am by a splitting headache and phoned an ambulance before collapsing.
Little Sophia heard her mum and bravely stayed by her side the whole time.
She managed to go downstairs and let paramedics in so they could rush her mum to hospital.
Sonya said “things could have turned out very differently if she hadn’t”.
The mum, from Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, was told she had suffered a subarachnoid haemorrhage – a life-threatening type of stroke caused by bleeding on the surface of the brain after an aneurysm had ruptured.
She spent 14 days at Whiston Hospital in Prescot, Merseyside, and had to learn how to walk again.
Speaking of the brain bleed for the first time today, the single mum of four told of her ordeal.
“Sophia heard me when I woke up with the headache and stayed with me the whole time,” Sonya said.
“After I got the ambulance on the phone she was at my feet wide eyed in shock – I can’t imagine how scary it must have been to see her mum go through a stroke.
“I can’t really remember much of the night after that. I could hear banging on the window and everything else I know is from what other people have told me.
“Afterwards my neighbour told me that he’d seen Sophia run and hit the green button that released the door into the apartment.
“Things could have turned out very differently if she hadn’t.
“Sophia was only four at the time and had to endure seeing me have a stroke, me in the hospital hooked up to different machines and despite all that she had done so well getting back to normal life.”
After surgery in a specialist brain unit, The Walton Centre, doctors discovered that Sonya had another brain aneurysm on her brain and fitted coils to prevent it from rupturing.
But following the haemorrhage in October 2017, Sonya found her memory had got worse and she struggled to take in information like she did before.
With all of the food and presents to remember to buy, the stay-at-home mum finds Christmas stressful but was determined to make it perfect for her four girls, Soniya, 28, Nicola, 26, Sophia, now seven, and Faith, four – who she first started shopping for in October.
Sonya is now redecorating Sophia’s room in a bid to encourage her to finally start sleeping in her own bed after years of sleeping with her mum to protect her.
Sonya added: “After the incident Sophia became quite clingy and felt she needed to protect me.
“We didn’t talk about it for two years after it happened, I blocked it out and I didn’t want to traumatise her more by revisiting it.
“But this year as she’s getting older we have started talking about it for the first time and she understands more.
“She’s always slept in the same bed as me but I want to do this for her to encourage her to have the confidence to sleep in her own room and know that she will be ok.”
Sonya is now speaking out to raise awareness of invisible illnesses to share how people who may not look visibly disabled can be struggling mentally.
She said: “Every time you go to sleep you think it is going to happen again – even now.
“Because I don’t look like I’ve got anything wrong with me they don’t take it seriously.
“People think that because they can’t see it that it doesn’t exist.”
Sonya said The Brain Charity, a national charity headquartered in Liverpool city centre, was ‘heaven sent’ in helping her move on with her life by providing free counselling.
When Covid-19 turned the UK upside down, Sonya also relied on The Brain Charity’s one-to-one phone service as a vital release from the daily pressures of being a single mother in lockdown.
She is now supporting the charity’s Sixmas appeal to raise £6,000 for the 1 in 6 with a neurological condition this December.
Sonya said: “I’ve been home alone with the kids with no one to talk to.
“It’s so good to have someone who treats me like they understand. I needed that.
“The Brain Charity is heaven sent – I would be lost without it.
“I just hope people put some time aside to research what The Brain Charity does for people and how much they help so they can understand what a difference they make.
“They’ve helped me in many different ways with money, emotional support and even making sure I had food through the first Covid lockdown.
“The Brain Charity helps people to understand that my condition isn’t trivial and I think everyone should have access to that. We need The Brain Charity and I hope that they get the money they need to help many more people like me.”
This year, The Brain Charity has faced a 70% surge in referrals due to Covid-19, despite many fundraising events being cancelled.
The organisation is asking people from all over the UK to organise and participate in a sponsored virtual or covid-safe activity event themed around the number six, to highlight the fact one in six people has a neurological condition, or sign up to donate £6 a month.
Tui Benjamin, head of communications and fundraising at The Brain Charity, said: “There are more than 600 different neurological conditions in existence, including stroke, brain injury, dementia and many much rarer ones too.
We are the only charity in the UK to be here for every single one of them, as we have been for the last 26 years.
“2020 has been an unprecedented year for everyone; and, as has been the case for many charities, we’ve been unable to engage in public fundraising events and activities in the same way we usually would.
“But at the same time, demand for our services has rocketed like never before.
“One in six people have a neurological condition, and more than ever need the life-changing support we provide.
“That’s why, this December, we are calling on anyone affected by a neurological condition in some way – most people will know someone living with one – to support our Sixmas appeal.”