PARENTS

Mum With 'Locked-In' Syndrome Completes Degree By Blinking

14/08/2014 17:04 | Updated 20 May 2015

locked in syndrome mum completes degree blinking

A mum who was left paralysed by a stroke just two weeks after the birth of her son has completed a university degree despite only being able to move her eyes.

Dawn Faizey-Webster, 42, from Staffordshire, has 'locked-in' syndrome which leaves her unable to walk or talk, but she communicates via a specially modified laptop that she can control with tiny eye movements.

After six years of working three hours a day with the computer, which she calls her 'lifeline', Dawn has achieved a 2:2 in Ancient History from the Open University.

Back in 2003, life seemed to be perfect for Dawn. A young teacher, she was expecting her first baby with her husband, Simon.

Everything changed when Dawn suffered pre-eclampsia while 26 weeks pregnant and was rushed to hospital, where severely underweight baby Alexander was delivered via emergency caesarean.

When she was finally discharged a week later, she and then-husband Simon believed that their nightmare was over. But just a week after arriving home, Dawn awoke one day feeling dizzy and faint, with pins and needles down her right side and incomprehensibly slurred speech.

What followed is a blur, but Dawn recalls weeks spent staring at the ceiling of her hospital room, completely paralysed, hearing doctors telling her husband and parents to 'prepare for the worst'.

But Dawn's brain was still fully-functional - she simply had no way of telling anyone.

After weeks of frustration, she managed to regain control of her eye muscles. One simple blink alerted her father, Alec, to the fact that his daughter was still 'there', and she was given the special laptop so that she could finally communicate with her family again.

The reunion was bittersweet, however.

Unable to cope with her paralysis, Dawn's husband left her a few months after she was released from hospital.

Her mum and dad are now her full-time carers, and she and Alexander, now 11, live with them at their home. They are particularly proud of their daughter's resilience and determination.

locked in syndrome mum completes degree blinking

"It was heartbreaking to see her go through all of this," Alec told the Mirror. "But she hasn't given up.

"She is graduating in October up in Manchester, it's going to be such a proud moment for us all."

Despite the fact that her severely-restricted writing speed meant that a three hour exam took her three weeks to complete, Dawn is now eager to get started on a Masters degree. She explains that her academic achievements keep her motivated and positive.

"When I first had my stroke, I realised I would not be able to do anything physical," she says. "I then decided to use the thing that had not been affected and that was my brain. I felt I needed to prove to myself and to others that I was still me, Dawn."

Congratulations, Dawn!

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