A junior doctor was left unable to recognise her own sister after a tangled mass of veins in her brain ruptured when she landed on her head in cheerleading practice.
Gwenllian Evans, 24, from Bedford, was left with memory issues, epilepsy and a condition called prosopagnosia, also known as face blindness. It means she struggles to recognise faces.
She was midway through a routine when she felt pain in her head. Hours later, the pain became ‘blinding’ and felt like a 'gunshot'. She was rushed to hospital.
Tests revealed she suffered a stroke, as a result of an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) - where a web of blood vessels in the brain bypasses normal brain tissue and directly diverts blood from the arteries to the veins.
The AVM, which she nicknamed Ralph, had been silently growing in her brain for years, before rupturing. She has been warned it could explode again at any time.
However, despite her ordeal, which left her fearing she wouldn't survive, her sheer determination allowed her to qualify as a doctor and achieve a life goal.
Recalling the incident for the first time since it happened three years ago, Miss Evans said: 'I was at home after practice, I heard something in my head make a noise, and felt something pop, then there was a blinding headache. It felt like a gunshot.
'I started vomiting immediately. I hadn’t vomited since I was a baby, so I knew there was something really wrong.'