Mini-stroke can’t stop Ellie fulfilling her singing dream

Ellie Stephenson performed on the Customs House stage two weeks after having a mini-stroke.
Ellie Stephenson performed on the Customs House stage two weeks after having a mini-stroke.

A battling girl with a passion for singing took to the stage in a talent contest last night – less than two weeks after suffering a mini-stroke.

Ellie Stephenson has astounded medical experts for 12 years after fighting back from the brink of death as a baby.

The young starlet, from Jarrow, who is hoping to carve out a singing career, was born suffering with meconium aspiration syndrome – a serious condition where a newborn breathes in a mixture of meconium and amniotic fluid into the lungs around the time of delivery.

Medics believe the condition could be behind her stroke after a MRI scan showed scarring on her brain.

Last night, the 12-year-old took to the stage of the Customs House, in South Shields, in the Gazette’s Young Performer of the Year talent contest.

Ellie said: “I knew what was happening to me because I’d seen it on the stroke adverts on the TV, but there was nothing I could do. I had no control over my body. It was scary.

“As soon as I was well enough, I started singing again.”

Her mum, Lisa Stephenson, 44, of Trent Drive, Jarrow, said: “I’d got Ellie in the house after picking her up from her friend’s house.

“She was sitting on the chair, then the whole side of her face just dropped. Her arm dropped, she couldn’t talk.

“I work in a care home so I see people in their 70’s and 80’s having strokes, so I knew what I was seeing, but it didn’t make sense. I just couldn’t take it in. She’s only 12.”

Ellie was taken to South Tyneside District Hospital by ambulance on April 7, where it was confirmed she had suffered a mini-stroke.

Mrs Stephenson added: “The doctors think the stroke is linked to the condition she had when she was a baby, but those who have the condition as serious as Ellie usually don’t survive, so they have no idea of the long-term effects.

“Ellie has to have further tests to see if they can find out the cause or if there has been any further damage.

As a baby, Ellie was put on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine – which acts as someone’s heart and lungs – to keep her alive.

Her parents were told she would not be able to walk or talk.

l See tomorrow’s Gazette for full coverage of last night’s Young Performer of the Year event or log on to for updates.