Pictured: Annie Barnett, 21
A young woman who found out she had five aneurysms after going to bed with a headache miraculously survived after two suddenly exploded in her brain – and she’s terrified her whole family might have the same condition.
Annie Barnett was feeling tired when she finished her shift in the deli section of Woolworths near her home in Burpengary, north of Brisbane, on October 9.
The 21-year-old, who also runs a social media marketing business, went to bed at about 8pm complaining of a headache, but woke up about three hours later in ‘the worst pain I’ve ever felt’, she told Daily Mail Australia.
Paramedics were called when her younger brother Bernie, 19, found her crying, moaning and crashing into walls as she tried to stagger through the hallway.
After a series of scans, her family were given the heartbreaking news that the otherwise healthy young woman had five bulging blood vessels in her brain – known as aneurysms.
According to John Hopkins Medicine, less than two per cent of the population have brain aneurysms, and only 20 per cent of those patients have more than one.
Annie Barnett (pictured) went to bed with a headache in October and woke up in excruciating pain
The young woman was one semester away from finishing university when she almost died
Ms Barnett was in agony because one of her five aneurysms burst, causing blood to ooze into her brain.
Doctors unsuccessfully tried to stop the bleeding through a vein in her leg, but ended up removing part of her skull to relieve the pressure on her brain and complete the life-saving operation.
‘It was a horrific operation and the doctor came out and said she was in a bad way,’ her father Greg Barnett said.
‘She was in an induced coma and on a ventilator, but they had to wake her up every hour for about a week to ask her questions like “where are you? what’s your name?” to see what her brain was doing.’
Pictured: Annie Barnett with friends in Queensland before she was told she had five brain aneurysms
Doctors removed a part of Annie Barnett’s skull to relieve the pressure on her brain (pictured)
A week later, the 21-year-old was miraculously sitting up in bed and chatting with her family with a big bandage over her head with the words ‘no bone’ to show where the piece of her skull was missing.
Experts said she exceeded their expectations in her recovery and, a week after that, she was moved to her own room and awaited surgery to clip the four remaining aneurysms.
‘A few days before she went into surgery, a doctor told me there was a less than one per cent chance of those aneurysms rupturing within the next decade,’ Mr Barnett said.
‘The second one ruptured later that night.’
Ms Barnett said the moment it burst was terrifying because she was in excruciating pain again – exactly like when the first one ruptured.
Pictured: Annie with her parents Greg and Carol. The couple have two sons, Bernie, 19, and Matthew, 15
Pictured: Annie Burnett with her brother Bernie, 19, her mother Carol, 54, and her father Greg, 57
Pictured: Annie with a friend in hospital while recovering from multiple brain surgeries
‘I lost feeling in my legs and felt like I couldn’t move,’ she said.
‘I was lying there for about an hour and a half before about ten doctors rushed in.’
Her devastated family were told to say goodbye – ‘people don’t survive two ruptured aneurysms in a fortnight,’ her father said.
The young woman looked sickly and grey.
Her condition didn’t worsen over the next two weeks, she didn’t wake up and medical staff were saying it was very likely she was likely going to be brain dead.
In another tragic turn of events, her parents then got a call from the hospital to say she had a stroke.
The 21-year-old (right) hopes to finish her last semester of university and become a social media marketing manager
Annie Burnett’s parents said goodbye to their daughter (pictured right) after she had a stroke
‘Nurses were touching us on the shoulder and saying they were sorry, that there was no hope, but we kept saying there was hope as long as she was alive,’ her father recalled.
‘Even if she was severely brain damaged, we said that’s OK – we’ll take care of her.’
Despite the dire prognosis, the young woman regained consciousness and slowly began to improve.
Within about two weeks, Ms Barnett re-learnt to walk, talk and feed herself properly and will soon be released from hospital until mid-January when she returns to have her remaining three aneurysms clipped to ensure they don’t burst.
While she is excited to recover and finish her last semester at university, she is frightened that her whole family could be living with undetected aneurysms.
‘There’s a possibility the aneurysms are genetic, so we all had MRI scans on Tuesday and we’re waiting for the results,’ Mr Barnett said.
The young woman is excited to have her three remaining brain aneurysms clipped to ensure they don’t burst
The 21-year-old (pictured right) wants to spread awareness about brain aneurysm
To help the family out with living expenses while their daughter is in hospital, Mr Barnett’s sister set up a Go Fund Me campaign.
The 21-year-old wants to continue working on her marketing business when she finally recovers, and hopes to work with Aneurysm Support Australia to raise awareness.
‘I’ve met so many people who had the same thing as me and they didn’t know what it was, but most of them were around 40 or 50 – I was definitely the youngest,’ she said.
‘Most people don’t know that it’s hereditary, and I feel like there should be more awareness.’