A stroke at 25, she's now dedicated to preventing others

Medical school student hopes to inspire other survivors
COLUMBIA, Missouri (WPVI) -- A young woman who survived a devastating stroke has set her sights on preventing others from a similar crisis.

Sydney Priest was a 25-year-old medical student at the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine when friends found her unconscious.

Priest was airlifted to the University of Missouri stroke center, where surgeons removed a 1-inch blood clot from her brain stem.

It was probably caused by a congenital heart defect.

Most people think stroke only happen in the elderly, but doctors say that's not true.

"We're seeing stroke more and more in younger and younger patients," says Dr. Brandi French, Priest's neurologist.

Between 2000 and 2010, there was a 44% increase in the rate of strokes among people 25 to 44 years old.

"They thought I would be wheelchair-bound, probably for the rest of my life," says Priest.

But she re-learned how to speak, and move, again.

She recalls, choking back tears, that her first word was "mom."

She's back in medical school, raising stroke awareness, and aiming to be a rehabilitation doctor.

And Priest is looking forward to her favorite summer activity - wakeboarding.
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