Issy Dolby, 9, returned to dancing in January after being left paralysed from having a stroke last year.

In June 2018, Issy attended her usual after school dance class but during the lesson began to experience severe pain.

She was rushed to her local hospital, St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey, where she was placed in an induced coma before being transferred to St George’s for specialist care, where an MRI confirmed that she had a stroke.

Issy stayed in the paediatric intensive care unit for three days, before moving to Nicholls Ward for seven weeks – where the same nursing team cared for her as in 2010 when at 24 hours old she became the world’s youngest child to have keyhole surgery to treat acute appendicitis.

Three days after having the stroke, Issy was taken out of the coma and was unable to talk, eat or drink and had to be fed via a nasogastric tube. She also had no movement down her right hand side as the stroke occurred in the left hand side of her brain.

Candice Dolby, Issy’s mum, said: “The call that afternoon from her school, changed our lives.” As soon as I saw Issy, I knew she’d had a stroke as her face had dropped. She was only eight years old at the time, you don’t expect children to have strokes.”

She added: “A couple of weeks into being in hospital, we took Issy for a walk around the hospital in her wheelchair and Issy hated it.  She didn’t want to be pushed around in a wheelchair and she hated the looks she got from passersby. From that moment, I saw a clear difference in her. She didn’t want to be stuck in a wheelchair so she put everything into her recovery to get back to where she was before.”

In time, Issy was able to talk in basic sentences, as well as eat, drink and stand independently. She’s now improved so much that she can run on a treadmill and dance again for short periods of time.

Candice said: “There is hope after stroke, Issy is living proof of that. There’s a long road ahead, but she is taking it in her stride and it’s incredible to see. I can’t praise the amazing people and the amazing care Issy received at St George’s enough.”

Seven months later, Issy has started back at school on a phased return while she continues with her extensive rehabilitation.

Dr Antonia Clarke, Consultant Paediatric Neurologist, said: “Issy has surpassed our expectations given how seriously unwell she was. We didn’t expect her to regain total movement in her right arm but week by week, she’s slowly regaining more strength and it’s truly fantastic to see her doing so well now.”

Dr Nicholas Prince, Consultant Paediatric Intensivist, said: “Issy was very ill when she arrived in our intensive care unit and we needed to work quickly as a team to ensure she had the best chance of recovery. Seeing how much she’s improved now is wonderful.”

Sarah Ball, Staff Nurse on Nicholls Ward, said: “Issy made wonderful progress on Nicholls ward, and it was a joy to look after her and her family. Seeing her determination and positivity was inspirational, and I’m really proud of her, as are all of the Nicholls ward team.”

Sharon Bickerton, Principal Paediatric Physiotherapist, said: “It’s remarkable to see just how much Issy has improved over time. A whole range of therapists – including physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech and language therapists – saw Issy every day during her hospital stay to support and aid her recovery.”

Similarly to 10% of all childhood strokes, there was no explanation for Issy’s stroke.

Notes to editors

For more information, please contact Pippa Harper, Media Manager at St George’s via or 020 8266 6128.


The paediatric intensive care unit at St George’s Hospital receives and cares for critically ill children from all over the south-east of England.

Information relating to Issy’s acute appendicitis:

In 2010 at four weeks old, Issy made history at St George’s as she became the youngest child in the world to have keyhole surgery to treat acute appendicitis, carried out by Mr Zahid Mukhtar, Consultant Paediatric Surgeon.

There had previously only been 100 recorded cases of appendicitis in babies worldwide within the last 100 years, a third of which did not survive surgery.

It was the same nursing team on Nicholls Ward that treated Issy at four weeks old as when she was recovering post-stroke.