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You don't often hear the words “endovascular thrombectomy”, but this incredible Australian innovation saved Karen’s life.
It was New Year’s Eve in 2016, and it was a normal day for Karen. Karen was a bit tired – something she’d noticed over the past few weeks – so she had a nap mid-morning. When Karen got up she had some lunch and then sat at the computer to play an online jigsaw.
Karen recalls, “The images were floating all over the screen and the mouse wasn’t working… My vision was actually going at this point but I didn’t realise. I also didn’t realise that the mouse wasn’t working because my arm wasn’t working… I turned around on the chair and then fell off.”
Paul, Karen’s husband, heard her fall and came inside. Paul recognised the F.A.S.T. signs of stroke – full right-side paralysis, difficultly speaking, her face had drooped. Paul knew time was critical, he called the ambulance, and the dispatcher stayed on the line until the paramedics arrived about 10 minutes later.
With her life hanging in the balance, Karen needed immediate treatment to survive. Thankfully, the latest innovations in stroke treatment gave her the best possible chance.
“I was lying on the floor and the second paramedic was sitting on the chair,” Karen says, “And I’m thinking, “Why is she on her mobile phone playing?” Afterwards it dawned on me that she was actually using a tablet computer to send information to the stroke unit at the hospital!”
Alerting the hospital meant when she arrived she was able to bypass the emergency room and head straight in for a scan of her brain. Being taken in for the scan is the last thing Karen remembers before finding herself in post-op following the clot retrieval surgery.
This procedure is a remarkable Aussie innovation. It was trialled with the support of a Stroke Foundation research grant, and is now recognised as the global-standard treatment in stroke care.
And it meant that at 5.30pm, just hours after her stroke, Karen was sitting up in her hospital bed watching the fireworks as the New Year was welcomed in. She was very thankful to be alive.
When we ask Karen what she would like to say to the Australian researchers and doctors who developed the treatments that saved her life – made possible by YOUR donations – she says:
“I think they are absolutely fabulous… I used to work for a scientific company, and I know that the process from the conception of an idea to actually realising it is a long process that needs to be nurtured, and funded and encouraged.”
She adds, “The people who have those little sparks – how can we treat this, how can we improve this. These people need all the support they can get.”