7-year-old Chicago boy helps save mother after stroke

Karen Jordan Image
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Chicago boy, 7, helps save mother suffering from stroke
Romeo Holland, 7, sprang into action when his mother was suffering from a stroke on Dec. 21, 2016.

CHICAGO -- A Chicago woman suffered a stroke, but her 7-year-old son acted calmly and quickly to save her life.

Romeo Holland knew exactly what to do when his mother, Sherece Holland, nearly fell, had trouble speaking, and struggled to move her arms as she was getting him ready for school on Dec. 21.

When Romeo, who likes to play games on his iPad, saw that his mother started to show signs of a stroke, he sprang into action.

Holland, a Chicago police officer, had taught her son how to use the wall panel to activate the burglary alarm and dial 911.

"When I was teaching him to use the alarm, I didn't think he would have to use it for me," Holland said.

His grandmother spoke to the dispatcher and soon Holland was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center.

The doctors who treated her said her stroke was severe.

"She was completely paralyzed on the right side, her eyes were deviated to the left and totally unable to speak," said Dr. Mel Wichter, a physician at Advocate Christ Medical Center.

An MRI showed a blood clot blocking the artery leading to the left side of Holland's brain. The longer she went without treatment, the worse the damage would be from the stroke.

So, in a minimally invasive procedure, doctors extracted the clot from the brain.

"Had we not been able to do this, the outcomes are very poor for the type of stroke she was having," said Dr. Scott Geraghty, of Advocate Christ Medical Center.

Holland is expected to make a full recovery, which doctors say is remarkable.

And they said Romeo's quick response prevented her from suffering permanent damage.

"This is something that would have been easy for him to say, 'Mom, lie down on the couch.' And had she done that, there's a chance she would not have woken up," Geraghty said.

Holland said she doesn't know why she had a stroke. She has no medical conditions and leads a healthy lifestyle.

Doctors are also trying to find out what happened, but they want the public to be aware of the signs of a stroke -- facial and arm weakness and slurring.