NewsPinellas County


A Pinellas County athlete suffers rare brain bleed

She was diagnosed with an AVM
Get well soon
Posted at 9:06 PM, Sep 03, 2021

A Pinellas County young athlete wants to bring awareness to a rare medical condition after suffering from a life-threatening brain bleed.

Cell phone video showed 14-year-old Ashley Percifield during a volleyball game last year. She was minutes away from a life-threatening medical episode.

"I was at a volleyball all day, I wasn't feeling the best, but I didn't think anything was really wrong," said Ashley Percifield.

She said she felt a "pop" and then felt pain in her neck.

"I felt it in my head, but it was worst in my neck," she recalled.

"We came home and she proceeded to complain about pain and then her color became very ash and gray. At that point, I realized we needed to go to the emergency room and get checked out," said her father, Mark Percifield.

At first, her parents and coaches thought maybe she had a pinched nerve or a migraine. Ashley was later rushed to the emergency room and then to Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital.

She had a life-threatening brain bleed. She was diagnosed with an AVM, an arteriovenous malformation. An AVM occurs when arteries and veins don't form correctly in an area of the body. The blood vessels may rupture and sometimes cause death.

She spent more than 2 weeks in the hospital. She was also treated for hydrocephalus. She needed an external ventricular drain (EVD). It allowed the blood and fluid to bypass the blockage.

Ashley said her friends gathered outside the hospital and held up signs.


"It was scary, but I had a lot of support from my friends like my friends went and held posters outside the hospital," said Ashley.

Ashley has remained positive during treatment and follow-up doctor appointments.

"I've kind of realized I don't have control over the situation. It's going to happen no matter what I want do about it so I might as well stay positive," she said.

"They explained to us how lucky and how fortunate we were because over half the individuals who have this condition when it first happens, they don't survive," said Mark.

Ashley has returned to playing volleyball and wants to bring awareness to AVMs.

"She does not use it as an excuse. She does not let it hold her back in life. We're thrown things at us either you can let the outcomes dictate you or you dictate the outcome and I would say she definitely dictated the outcome in this one," said Mark.