CHICAGO -- Doctors say a 7-year-old's quick thinking when his mom showed early signs of a stroke actually saved her life this past winter.
Romeo Holland's favorite saying is "calm down," his family says, and his calm came in handy the morning of December 21 as his mom was helping him brush his teeth.
"I had his toothbrush and I couldn’t brush his teeth for nothing," recalled his mom, Sherece Holland.
Seeing his mom struggle, Romeo rushed to grab his grandma's cane and his grandmother, who lives with them. But his grandma was too nervous to call for help, his family said. But Romeo kept his cool and took his grandmother to the burglar alarm, doing what his mom taught him to do in an emergency.
"I pressed the top button for 911 and I pressed 911," Romeo said.
Dr. Scott Geraghty, who operated on Sherece, said she was in the middle of a severe stroke.
"The type of stroke she was having is one maybe half the people don’t even survive," he said. "Or if they survive they end up in the nursing home."
After she was admitted, Dr. Geraghty performed a relatively new procedure where he fished a catheter up Sherece’s leg, into her brain and completely removed the clot.
"She went from a devastated, paralyzed, unable to speak situation to a completely normal, completely resolved stroke within minutes," said Dr. Melvin Wichter.
But doctors say recognizing the warning signs of a stroke make for the best outcomes, and were key to her getting help in time.
Sherece is 55 years old and a Chicago police officer for the past 21 years, with no family history of stroke and no health problems of her own. So doctors still don’t know what lead to the blood clot that caused the stroke, but she is expected to make a full recovery, thanks to her little Romeo.
Doctors said the story should also serve as a lesson for everyone, no matter their age, to know the warning signs of a stroke and act fast. Signs someone is having a stroke include facial droop, arm weakness, and speech impairment.
If you see someone having a stroke, doctors say, don’t wait to head to the hospital. It's an an emergency - get in as quickly as possible.