At the age of 18, Ellie Dunkerton was rushed to hospital with a brain bleed. Her family were told she wouldn't make it through the night.

Then, when she did, her family were told she would never walk or talk again.

Two days later, Ellie, who is from Tredegar, woke up from being in a coma and was determined to defy the odds still further. She later left University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff ready to "smash rehab".

Ellie had suffered a brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM) - a tangle of abnormal blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain.

Now aged 21, Ellie is speaking out about her remarkable recovery and how she hopes her story will help others.

She said: "On April 18, 2017,  I suffered with a massive brain bleed. I remember speaking to my mam and I just felt faint, then my speech cut off, it was like a mini stroke as my face and body dropped, I couldn't move anything apart from my left side. I was so weak.

"I was rushed into hospital and put into a coma," she said.

"I can't remember much that happened, so my mam has written down on a piece of paper what I have been through.

Ellie was unable to talk, eat or walk.

Ellie Dunkerton was rushed to hospital in 2017 with a brain bleed

"Further scans revealed that I had a huge AVM on the brain, my right side was paralysed. The doctors advised my mam that I would be lucky to even walk or talk again.

"But I began to speak and eat in less than three weeks, then I went to rehabilitation hospital for intense treatment to learn how to walk and talk properly again.

"I worked really hard for three months, then I walked out of the doors. I was still dependent on a wheelchair and I then had an operation to remove the AVM."

After a 10 hour operation, Ellie is still smiling
Seven days after her operation she had the staples taken out of her head and was sent home

She said she could have suffered brain damage and it could have made things even worse for her.

But she added: "Luck was on my side and I made it through, I was left with a risk of further bleeding and in December, 2019, I had radiotherapy.

"I won't know if this has worked until two years later but I will keep having scans every six months for two years."

These are the signs of a stoke:

Her journey has been hard for her family and friends, especially for her mam Clare.

She added: "I remember getting rushed into hospital, I remember my mam standing there and speaking to me. I can't remember having the scan done.

"My whole brain was covered in blood, when I was in a coma all I remember is that it was like someone was suffocating me and I blacked out.

"I was in so much pain with my legs I couldn't move my right side or speak to anyone to tell them that I was in agony and I couldn't ask doctors what had happened to me because I couldn't talk.

"I have suffered with some fits since the operation but it's calmed down now.

"I've never heard of an AVM before, that's why I was sent to the Heath because they have never seen anything like it before.

"My mam and auntie have been a big part of this. My mam was so strong, she's been through an awful lot.

"I have been through a lot but I think they have been through worse."

Ellie in July, 2018, walking on the beach without a leg brace for the first time
All she wants to do now is to help others

The 21-year-old admitted that she suffered with depression and anxiety as a result of everything that had happened to her.

"Sometimes I get into bed and I don't want to move but my best friend has helped me a lot. She will be like, 'come on now' we'll go to the gym and do something to get out of the house'.

"I used to be a hairdresser but I can't use my right hand at the moment. It has literally taken everything from me."

She said she was diagnosed with depression in January, 2019.

"I had never suffered from any kind of headache before this happened to me, at the age of 8-9 I suffered with nose bleeds and my mam took me to hospital once but I didn't have any scans.

"I didn't have symptoms before I was rushed to hospital, it just happened. I was born with the AVM, none of us knew until I had a brain bleed and it just burst in my head.

"I have anxiety when I go to the gym, I think 'what if I push myself too much' and any headaches I get scare me, I think I'm going to have another brain bleed," she explained.

Ellie's aim is to try and remain positive as all she wants to do is to help others.

She added: "It is hard but I know it's possible to get through things if you put your mind to it.

"It's a lot to take in, I don't know what I would do without my family and friends. The next step is learning to drive and in a couple years I am hoping to work.

"Most of time I was getting frustrated because I wanted to walk but it took me three months, I can walk now but I have to wear a brace, I can't walk like a normal person.

"There's always someone worse off than me no matter what, I have always said that everything happens for a reason and I really do believe that now."