8-year-old boy saves mother’s life after she suffers brain aneurysm

KANSAS CITY — A Kansas mother thought her days of mothering were long done with her kids all grown and moved out of the house.

But, in a random turn of events, a family friend needed help. And now in her 50s, Tammie Willis ended up adopting two boys under the age of eight.

So, on the first day of school last August, Willis woke up her newly-adopted school-aged son, Jhamari, to enjoy a special breakfast together.

They were enjoying his favorite dish, scrambled eggs and biscuits and gravy. Then, Willis thought it would be fun to challenge him to a race to see who could get dressed the fastest.

Willis got undressed, and that was the last thing she remembers. She fell unconscious on the floor.

“I remember turning from my bathroom to my bedroom and saw myself hit the floor and don’t remember anything after that,” she said.

Jhamari had never learned what to do in an emergency but luckily knew a few phone numbers of his new relatives and made calls until someone answered. His uncle finally called 911.

Once at Saint Luke’s Hospital on the Country Club Plaza, interventional neurologist Dr. Coleman Martin found an aneurysm on Willis’ brain and immediately operated, placing small coils of soft braided platinum inside the aneurysm to form a plug. He later inserted what is known as a pipeline stent inside the blood vessel to divert blood flow away from the aneurysm.

“Frankly, she just got incredibly lucky that we could treat the aneurysm before it caused massive bleeding,” Martin said.

In hindsight, Willis did have some of the common warning signs of an aneurysm. She was experiencing occasional double vision in one eye, and she had a few bouts of unexplained, terrible headaches, often called thunderclap headaches that come on strong and suddenly.

Because aneurysms can cause bleeding over the surface of the brain and can be deadly, Willis feels extra blessed to have survived and owed it all to Jhamari, who she calls her special hero.

If you have young ones at home, this is a good reminder to teach them how and when to dial 911. And, in a time when so many are going without landlines, it’s also time to demonstrate the basics of making a call on a cell phone.