Natalie Banner with her daughter Velvet.
Natalie Banner with her daughter Velvet. Geoff Potter

Velvet a walking miracle after rare, violent stroke

VELVET Banner  was a "perfectly healthy, robust, beautiful baby girl" until a violent stroke in her cot one night left her brain damaged.

Natalie, Velvet's mum, said her 17-month-old daughter contracted parvovirus after three visits to daycare.

It lowered her immune system to the point she picked up a common bacteria Kingella, which in most cases would be broken down with stomach acid.

"Velvet was one out of hundreds of millions of people that the bacteria went to her blood stream and into her heart," Mrs Banner said.

The bacteria formed a growth on the mitral valve of Velvet's heart and she was in and out of hospital as doctors struggled to determine what was wrong.

"No one picked up it was with her heart," Mrs Banner said.

"Not a single doctor requested a blood culture test, everyone did a blood test."

Mrs Banner said Velvet was increasingly sick for about six weeks and began convulsing.

"I had to resus her, had the ambulance around, I saved her life," she said.

Her doctor finally requested a blood culture test in November, but it was too late as Velvet suffered a stroke the following night in her cot.

"I didn't find her until 4am, we noticed she wasn't moving her right side," she said.

"She looked like a stroke victim, her face had half dropped.

"Half of the growth broke up and went into the left side of the brain."

Velvet was taken to Nambour, Royal Brisbane and the Mater hospitals before she was diagnosed with bacterial endocarditis, a growth on her heart.

"She had complete brain damage on the left hemisphere of her brain, and now only runs off the right side of her brain," Mrs Banner said.

"The left side doesn't work at all, it's all grey matter.

"She's now been diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an extent of the damage."

Despite Velvet's unfortunate circumstance, the fact she was under two years old wound up being a blessing in disguise.

"If she was over two, she would not have survived the severity of the stroke," Mrs Banner said.

"Her brain was 100% developed, under two they're still making new pathways, her brain is still growing. That was in her favour."

Velvet also underwent two open heart surgeries to remove the growth from the valve, during with she had a blood transfusion of more than three-quarters her body weight.

"Without all the Red Cross blood donors, Velvet would not have survived," Mrs Banner said.

Less than two months shy of her second birthday, Velvet is "rewriting medicine" with her progress.

"We were told she would be a vegetable," Mrs Banner said.

"But once she got out of hospital, she started walking and talking again.

"She will walk and talk again, she will be an independent person down the track.

"She's an incredible little girl, her spirit hasn't been broken, she's the kindest sweetheart."

Throughout rehabilitation, the Banner family was put in touch with Sunshine Butterflies and once a week, participate in their Baby Bridges program.

An early intervention program funded through the Horizon Foundation, promoting development and learning outcomes for children aged 0-5 years with various disabilities.

The children attend six sessions within a school term to participate in a playgroup with input from a physio, occupational therapist or speech therapist.

The parents or carers also meet with the facilitator who provides them with information, resources and referrals to other government or community initiatives to help with the care of their child.

"There isn't anything else in the community that offers anything what Baby Bridges offers," Mrs Banner said.

"The support that Sunshine Butterflies has provided and all the avenues they've opened up have been tremendous.

"I don't think I would have made it through the last couple of months without Baby Bridges."

Mrs Banner encouraged any parents who had reservations about their sick children to request a blood culture test from their doctor.

"Everyone is fearful about doing blood tests on a baby, I was and I had reservations, so did my husband," she said.

"At the end of the day, when you're exhausting all avenues and the child is still sick, that blood culture test saved our child's life."

For information about the Baby Bridges program, visit

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