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Community News

Posted on: May 25, 2018

New Stroke Treatment Saves Lives at Mercy Hospital

One morning last summer, Roy was up early with his dog when life changed.

“Memory's a little fuzzy,” he said, “but I think the dog had gotten up and I jumped out of bed to go get her and I went down.”

His wife Dianne heard Roy calling from the bedroom. She called 911 and Roy was taken by ambulance to Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids.  Little did they know, he was in the midst of a massive stroke.  Dianne was in shock. Her husband was fit and active and always seemed like the picture of health.

“It just did not seem right, it just didn't seem fair,” she said.

The severity of Roy's stroke could easily have resulted in paralysis or even death, if not for a treatment that had just arrived at Mercy Hospital.  A select group of stroke patients, like Roy, are candidates for a mechanical thrombectomy.

Dr. Michael Schwemm, medical director of Mercy's emergency department, says the emergency treatment can mean the difference between life and death.

“This is huge,” he said, “This really changes everything.”

During a mechanical thrombectomy, a wire is inserted near the groin and thread up into the brain.  The wire then vacuums out bits of the blood clot allowing blood flow to return.

Patients once had to travel great distances to have this done. During a stroke timing is everything, so most candidates never got the chance to have this life saving measure. Now, a team of specialists is on call around the clock to treat stroke patients at Mercy Hospital, Coon Rapids.

“It was remarkable,” said Dr. Schwemm of the first procedures at Mercy, “because patients that had come in being unable to move half of their body, unable to speak, unable to swallow or handle their own saliva or secretions, were able to have this procedure and within minutes they were conversant, moving their arms and legs again. It was stunning to everyone that was in the room!"

Roy was one of the first to have a mechanical thrombectomy at Mercy. Nine month later, he continues physical therapy but many parts of his life have continued with only minor adjustments.  A lifelong outdoorsman, Roy has managed to continue to walk, hunt and fish. He even took a family trip to Disney World with his 5-year-old granddaughter.

While recovery feels tedious, Roy knows his second chance is precious.

“I hate to go to sleep at night,” he admitted, “I'm afraid I'm not going to wake up in the morning. So, that feeling is getting a little bit better but it's still hard.”

“I guess you learn to appreciate every day a little more than you used to.”

Jennifer Anderson reporting

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