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Nicole says she became panicked when she received a voicemail message from her husband, Jon, in which he slurred, “Something is wrong.” When she frantically began calling his cell phone, a coworker of Jon’s answered and informed her that her husband had collapsed and paramedics were on their way.
When she arrived at the hospital, Nicole was informed that her husband had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. This type of stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or ruptures, damaging surrounding brain cells. It is typically caused by high blood pressure, trauma, an aneurysm, the use of blood-thinning medication, or by other conditions that affect the blood vessels.
“When they told me that he had had a stroke, it was surprising because he was so young. He was just 38,” she says.
Doctors told Nicole that Jon had a very slim chance of survival. She then decided to have Jon transferred to UCLA Medical Center, where neurosurgeon Dr. Neil Martin is the head of the UCLA Stroke Center. Dr. Martin explained that Jon had two options: wait and do nothing, or try a new, minimally invasive surgical treatment. Although she knew it was risky, Nicole decided to move forward with the surgery, in the hopes of giving Jon the best chance at survival.
Dr. Martin explains that traditionally, hemorrhagic strokes are treated with an invasive craniotomy, in which surgeons create a large incision on the skull and enter the brain to remove the clot. The procedure his team performed on Jon, however, is a minimally invasive endoscopic surgery, in which a small incision is made above the eyebrow and a small suction tube is inserted to carefully remove the clot and check for further bleeding in the brain.
- Watch as Dr. Martin demonstrates the difference between the traditional treatment for strokes and the new, minimally invasive surgery.
Jon joins his wife and Dr. Martin on stage and describes how his recovery, though slow, has progressed. Though he still suffers some muscle weakness and hasn’t fully regained function in his left arm, Jon can walk and talk. He calls the surgery he received a miracle.
ER physician Dr. Travis Stork shares the common symptoms of a stroke:
- Facial drooping
- Arm drifting downward
- Slurred speech
Call emergency services if you notice any of these signs. Getting immediate treatment is critical in improving the chances of survival.