This memorial website was created to remember our precious angel Sheryl Nicole Wolfe who was born on October 16, 1991 and passed away unexpectedly on April 19, 2010 due to a stroke. She was only 18 yrs old, she was a fun, creative, and compassionate person. She will live forever in our hearts and memories. Sheryl leaves behind parents Allen and Estrella, brother Joel and sister Lauren.
Honolulu (HawaiiNewsNow) - It wasn't a natural cause, as first thought. Turns out, the Mililani teen who collapsed last month in class suffered a household accident. Sheryl Wolfe hit her head on the sofa. That was it. It's a scary thought since accidents like that happen all the time yet the damage it caused is what's so rare.
Sheryl Wolfe's death was a mystery. She was a healthy 18 year old with no drugs in her system and no family history of early stroke. Yet last month her brain hemorrhaged causing a stroke which eventually led to her death.
"It doesn't make any sense, but now it makes perfect sense," said Dr. Jon Graham, Neurosurgeon.
Dr. Jon Graham was puzzled by Sheryl's death until he read the medical examiner's preliminary report into what happened. There was a head trauma caused by simply hitting her head on the wooden back of the family's couch, yet it was enough of a whip lash action to damage her internal carotid artery in her neck.
"What happens is you get a tear so you get this clot that forms along the side of it," said Dr. Graham. "And so when that lining gets torn then blood can actually pulsate behind where that tear is and eventually form a clot and that artery gets plugged up and if that artery gets plugged up you're losing about half the blood supply to the front part of the brain."
Right after hitting her head Sheryl told her sister she thought her eyes were going to pop out. Eventually the pain went away and everyone moved along. The damage took time to develop. About a day after hitting her head she had the stroke. Sheryl's mom is an operating room nurse and would have noticed the symptoms from a significant head injury but there weren't any until she collapsed at school.
"It's a very unusual situation. A terrible thing occurred. It's really hard to prevent something like this from happening because it's so rare to begin with," said Dr. Graham.
So rare it happens to about three or four people out of 100,000.
"Myself I've seen two cases in my career and I've been practicing neurological surgery for 25 years," said Dr. Graham.
And he says in Sheryl's case there was really nothing else the family could have done.
Even if she would have gone to the hospital right after hitting her head doctors wouldn't have seen the clot because it hadn't formed yet. However if you or your child hits your head Dr. Graham says to watch for the warning signs which include head and neck pain, tingling at base of skull, nausea or vomiting, sleepiness, weakness in arm or leg, drooping on one side of face. If those symptoms appear get to an emergency room right away.