Girl who had stroke at 11 takes first steps after medics said she’d never walk again

A girl paralysed by a stroke has learnt to walk again after her parents decided not to tell her that doctors believed it wasn’t possible.

Natalie Bentos-Pereira, from South Carolina in the US, was just 11 when she suffered a spinal stroke in 2017. She woke up feeling a pain in her back but went to school anyway not realising what had happened.

The pain got worse throughout the day and eventually she couldn’t walk, so her parents rushed her to hospital.

After tests and examinations revealed the cause, doctors told Natalie’s family she would never walk again.

However, her determined parents, Margaret and Gerado, decided to keep the prognosis from their daughter.

And with the belief that she would always be able to walk again and a lot of hard work and perseverance, Natalie took her first steps.

Mum Margaret said: “We both decided that we didn’t want her to give up on herself. If we had told her that would have been very deflating and we wanted her to work at her recovery, and to believe in herself instead of the doctors.

“A whole team of doctors had looked her over and we eventually got our diagnosis. They informed us that Natalie would never walk again. I remember my husband telling the doctors, she’ll prove you wrong.

“We did keep the doctors diagnosis from Natalie, well, we left the part out about her never being able to walk again. We did not want her to give up hope.

“We told her that it was gonna take a lot of therapy and hard work from her to get strong again. The process was going to take time, this was not going to happen overnight.

“We did a lot of therapy over the years, the first year we went to Kennedy Kriger for one month of inpatient therapy. They worked with her everyday.

“By the time we left they had her walking with a walker, we were thrilled with the outcome! We continued to go there for two more years after.

“They did wonderful things with her! We also put her with a swimming therapist in the water Natalie was her old self. She always loved swimming and she could not wait to see what she could do in the water.

“Till this day she can swim unbelievably well, without using her legs.”

Fast forward five years and Natalie is now able to walk and enjoying her teenage years.

“Natalie is now 16 years almost 17, learning to drive and is going into the 11th grade. When she finishes high school she hopes to attend college in South Carolina to become a neonatal nurse.

“This past year Natalie started to play adaptive tennis and would like to continue in college. She is excited for all to come!”