A young stroke survivor is on a mission to build a support network for other young sufferers.
Maria Fredatovich suffered a stroke in 1996 when she was just 13.
She was on the operating table having neuro-surgery to try to stop her epileptic seizures.
"My chances of having a stroke during surgery at that age were below 1 per cent and I happened to make up that statistic.
"A lot of people don't understand what happens with a stroke. You lose all your senses, your hand-eye co-ordination, your strength and it won't return 100 per cent - and they will always require continual maintenance," Maria says.
Maria is now 30 years old and wants to create a network where young stroke survivors can share their stories and experiences.
A stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is disrupted. It can cause permanent neurological damage.
Strokes kill about 2000 New Zealanders every year and 10 per cent of strokes occur in people under 65.
Maria was partly paralysed down the right-side of her body after her stroke.
"The doctors said I would never walk again and I was in a wheelchair for six months."
The Auckland resident proved doctors wrong and returned to school in September 1996.
She has made sure her stroke hasn't held her back with an interior and spatial design degree from university.
She's lived in London, travelled to 40 countries and has skydived several times.
Stroke Foundation regional chief executive Don Scandrett says it is important for those who have suffered a stroke to find a person they can talk to.
"There is no typical stroke and it's always better if you can talk to someone you can relate to."
Visit yssnz.weebly.com for more information on how to support young stroke survivors.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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