Woman, 24, defies slim odds to survive a brain aneurysm

A woman defied slim odds to survive a brain aneurysm that made her feel like her head was going to explode at the age of 15. 

Chloe Gallagher, now 24, was rushed to hospital when she suddenly lost her vision and was crippled with agonising pain in her head while watching TV at home.

A CT scan showed medics that Miss Gallagher's brain was 'full of blood' after the brain aneurysm, a bulging blood vessel, had burst.

In emergency surgery, doctors had to cut out a part of Miss Gallagher's skull the size of a palm to operate before putting her in a coma to help her recover.

Her family, of Ontario, Canada, were told to expect the worst. If she survived, she would be faced with some serious disabilities. 

But described as a 'miracle patient', Miss Gallagher, who is now a medical student, pulled through with little complications - despite developing epilepsy. 

Chloe Gallagher defied slim odds to survive a brain aneurysm that made her feel like her head was going to explode at the age of 15. Pictured after at her graduation

Chloe Gallagher defied slim odds to survive a brain aneurysm that made her feel like her head was going to explode at the age of 15. Pictured after at her graduation

In emergency surgery, doctors had to cut open a part of her skull the size of a palm to operate before Miss Gallagher was put in a coma

In emergency surgery, doctors had to cut open a part of her skull the size of a palm to operate before Miss Gallagher was put in a coma

Described as a 'miracle patient', Miss Gallagher pulled through despite having to deal with epilepsy and various other operations since

Described as a 'miracle patient', Miss Gallagher pulled through despite having to deal with epilepsy and various other operations since

In June 2010 Miss Gallagher suddenly felt like her head was going to explode - a sudden sign that a brain aneurysm has led to an extreme condition known as subarachnoid haemorrhage. 

As she tried to get out of the bed to get to the kitchen, she fell and realised she couldn't walk.

She crawled down the hall to the kitchen, confused and terrified, and managed to call her father, whose name is unknown.

Miss Gallagher said: 'I came home from school that day, did some homework, then was watching TV in my parents' room and was on my phone texting some friends.

'Suddenly, the TV screen and my mobile phone screen were blurry, and my head felt like it was going to explode. It literally felt like it was going to explode.

'I can't even describe to you the pain I felt that day. I got up to go to the phone in the kitchen since I couldn't see the screen on my phone, but when I stood up out of the bed, I fell. It was then I realised I couldn't walk.

'I realised something was seriously wrong. As I was crawling down the hall to the kitchen, I was trying to figure out what the hell could be happening.

On his way to her, her father called her brother, Dru, who was nearby. When Dru arrived, he saw Miss Gallagher curled up in a ball on the kitchen floor, screaming in pain. 

Miss Gallagher said: 'I have no idea how, it must have been muscle memory, but I dialled my dad's phone number. I didn't know it but at that point I was just screaming.

In June 2010 Miss Gallagher suddenly felt like her head was going to explode. She called her father, who called her brother, Dru, pictured with Miss Gallagher after her surgery

In June 2010 Miss Gallagher suddenly felt like her head was going to explode. She called her father, who called her brother, Dru, pictured with Miss Gallagher after her surgery

Miss Gallagher needed emergency surgery, pictured after

Miss Gallagher, in her hospital bed, was found screaming in pain by her brother at home

Miss Gallagher was rushed to hospital. A CT scan showed medics that Miss Gallagher's brain was 'full of blood' after as the brain aneurysm, a bulging blood vessel, had burst

An emergency decompressive craniotomy was performed to relieve the swelling in Miss Gallagher's brain. Pictured, the scars from where her skull was removed

An emergency decompressive craniotomy was performed to relieve the swelling in Miss Gallagher's brain. Pictured, the scars from where her skull was removed

Miss Gallagher had a bone flap in her brain removed that her doctors said was the size of her hand and then put in a three-day coma. Pictured in hospital

Miss Gallagher had a bone flap in her brain removed that her doctors said was the size of her hand and then put in a three-day coma. Pictured in hospital

WHAT IS A BRAIN ANEURYSM?

A brain aneurysm is a bulge or ballooning blood vessel. 

This can leak, causing bleeding in the brain, which can be life threatening.

Symptoms of a ruptured aneurysm include:

Sudden, severe headache Nausea and vomiting Stiff neck Blurred or double vision Sensitivity to light Seizure Drooping eyelid Confusion Loss of consciousness

An unruptured aneurysm may not have any symptoms and could not require treatment.

The causes of brain aneurysms are often unclear.

Risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking, heavy drinking and old age.

Treatment may include surgery or medication to restore blood flow and relieve pain.

Source: Mayo Clinic 

'From this point on, I don't remember seeing anything, but I remember hearing him [Dru] coming in the door and rushing over to me. 

'Shortly after, I remember hearing my dad walk into the room and they made the decision to just take me to the hospital. That's the last thing I remember.' 

At the hospital emergency room, the doctor immediately recognised that the cause was a ruptured brain aneurysm and a CT scan showed that her brain was 'full of blood'.

It's difficult to know exactly how many people are affected by brain aneurysms because they usually cause no symptoms and pass undetected.

It could be as high as one in 20 people, while other experts think the figure is much lower at around one in 100

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