Surviving a Massive Stroke

Steve McKinionUncategorized3 Comments

Three years ago today I listened to a doctor tell me this:

“Your son two complete blockages deep in the brain. He has five bleeds too deep to reach. Something is wrong with his blood; it is too thick to even perform a complete blood count.”

I asked an obvious question: “Is there any chance he will make it?”

He had a measured response: “The bleeds are too deep for us to do anything. I’m sorry, but there is nothing more we can do. We will keep him sedated to prevent further seizures, but I’m sorry to say he won’t survive.”

Heartbreak for his mother and I me like I could never have imagined.


Harrison three years ago


Harrison now


Two weeks earlier he had been diagnosed with leukemia. We thought if anything killed him it would be the cancer. Never did we imagine he would have a stroke. Even worse, a stroke caused by a drug meant to save him from the cancer.

But Harrison’s oncology team was not content to shut the door and let Harrison die like that. Despite it being the day after Christmas, his docs jumped into action. Dr. Gold was on call, but Dr. Weston left his vacation to rush to the hospital. They devised a plan. And like everything for Harrison’s journey, it was unique.

The treatment involved a frozen plasma solution, essentially doing the opposite of what one expects (whatever that means). It was something new doctors were trying on stroke victims. No one had tried it on a child. But, as we’ve said many times, what do we have to lose?!

A nurse told us the pediatric doctor in the ICU have overruled Harrison’s oncologists and were not going to allow the treatment. I proceeded to find her and (ahem) express my deep displeasure with her decision.  Eventually she relented and allowed it.

The treatment worked.

And, just like the treatment for his leukemia, the treatment for his stroke was the subject of a paper for pediatric oncologists. Go figure. I wish he would stop having experiences that require miraculous medical advances!

We remember these events and the months of epileptic seizures that followed with wonder at the kindness of our God. Today, the only sign of brain damage is occasional stuttering (that may not even be a result of the stroke). Harrison is no longer on Keppra to prevent seizures. And while the brain trauma has stolen the sport of football from him, he still plays baseball like a champ. Even better, he has been on the all A honor roll each semester since.

Today he may do many of the same things he did on that infamous December 26. He and his brother may burn boxes and wrapping paper. He and his mom may return some gifts that don’t fit. He and his sister may play a game in the basement.

And we will give thanks to God that he can.

3 Comments on “Surviving a Massive Stroke”

  1. Awesome story. Praise God for all He has done and will continue to do. Harrison is an inspiration to so many people. God clearly has your family in His hands, will pray things continue to get better and one day the entire nightmare left far behind.

    Thank you for sharing

    God Bless you all

  2. Steve,

    Thank you for sharing your story! We have been praying for your precious son and it is so wonderful to read & see how God has done some amazing things through medicine & faith!

    You and your wife are amazing!

    God BLESS You!


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