Former police officer Clodagh Dunlop hopes to eventually return to work and get back to her four-mile-a-day runs after beating locked-in syndrome.Facebook / Clodagh Dunlop

Last April, 35-year-old Irish woman Clodagh Dunlop suffered a massive life-threatening stroke leaving her unable to do anything but blink her eyes.

On Thursday, she took her first steps from Musgrave Park Hospital, defying all the odds to walk once again.

In April, doctors discovered that Clodagh had a clot and had suffered a brainstem stroke. Her family were told to prepare for the worst.

For almost three months following her stroke, Clodagh, from Magherafelt in Co. Derry, was left with locked-in syndrome, unable to move or speak and communicating by blinking while her mind remained completely alert.

Locked-in syndrome affects only a small number of people who suffer a stroke but for those that it does hit, there is no treatment or cure and any kind of recovery is rare.

This is what makes Clodagh’s journey home this week so remarkable and the bravery she has shown in her recovery so inspiring as she’s progressed from being a prisoner in her own body to learning again to speak, to moving her limbs and finally, to walking.

As can be seen in the video below, Clodagh and her partner of three years, Adrian Campbell, made the emotional short journey to their car, surrounded by the hospital staff who have supported her throughout her rehabilitation.

Finishing her last physiotherapy session, she looked forward to living her life to the fullest and spoke of returning eventually to her 4-mile a day run or even returning to her job as a police officer with Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Clodagh can remember everything from her time suffering with locked-in syndrome and from those first moments waking up in intensive care which she has called “the most terrifying experience of my life”.

In her first interview since regaining her speech with the BBC, Clodagh said: "I remember everything from the first moment I woke in the intensive care unit.

"It was a very surreal experience. I wanted to shout out to everyone 'I'm here!'.

"I could see my family and partner, Adrian, were so upset and I wanted to reassure them, but I couldn't do anything. You are a prisoner in your own body."

With guts and determination, however, Clodagh has made tremendous progress since first showing signs of movement on her birthday in May.

"My friend visited me and I was trying to communicate to her that I wanted tablets," she said.

"I had a spell-board and blinked out everything, but she was assuming what I had said.

"I was so angry. I screamed at her and that was the first time I could make noise and my arms moved slightly.

"I went from angry to overjoyed. It was a remarkable moment."

Today I was able to push the bedside call nurse button, and during my physio session remained sitting up myself...

Posted by Clodagh Dunlop on Dé Luain, 1 Meitheamh 2015

Since then, Clodagh has had to relearn basic bodily functions such as breathing and swallowing, aiming towards being once again able to walk unaided.

"I've been so excited. I've gone from being locked-in, completely paralyzed, just blinking with my eyes, to trying to take a few steps out of Musgrave, and then commencing my journey home," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I can make gestures and small movements. I'm amazed at how far I've come."

She also had many words of praise for her “blue angels”—the staff who have helped her on this journey.

"The staff have just blown me away. I was a police officer and I would have said I had learned to be kind and patient and compassionate but the nurses here have taught me a new level of being kind, being compassionate," she said.

The staff, in turn, had many words of praise for Clodagh and her positive attitude throughout the difficult experience.

"I met her as a patient coming onto the ward, from the very beginning until leaving today," said ward sister, Caroline Malone.

"She has built up such a wonderful rapport with the other staff. She has become like one of the family now. The nurses and team have built up such a rapport with Clodagh and her family.

"It has been an amazing journey right from the very beginning to now leaving today. It was a very emotional today.

"There were tears on the ward this morning and there have been tears among all the therapy staff as well because there has been such a big input in relation to Clodagh's recovery."

I've been working this week with occupational therapy who assist me in gaining my independence, providing practical aids...

Posted by Clodagh Dunlop on Dé hAoine, 16 Deireadh Fómhair 2015

Before suffering from the stroke, Clodagh had been stationed in Derry as a police officer for eight years, winning a community policing award in 2012 for her work.

"I'm just taking every day as it comes," she added. "I would love to return to work.”

"I loved Derry and I loved the people. I would feel really proud if one day, I could go back."

Nothing could wipe the smile from Clodagh’s face as she finally made her departure from the hospital to many cheers and congratulations from the staff. She left them saying, "It's the next step in what will be a long journey - but I can't wait to begin it."

You can listen to an interview with Clodagh and the staff speaking of her departure below.