Bobbie Laird survived a life-threatening stroke sparked off by a nearly half-inch long blood clot in her brain, thanks to a catheter device used by by the doctor, John Whapham of Loyola University Health System.
Whapham used a catheter device called Penumbra to stop the stroke, broke up the clot and then extracted the waste.
A majority of strokes are caused by blood clots in brain vessels. The brain cells die when they do not receive blood and oxygen. However, timely treatment can reduce damage and save life.
Laird was brought to the emergency room paralysed on the left side of her body. She was fast losing consciousness. A clot had passed through her heart and was stuck up in her right middle cerebral artery, which delivers blood to most of the right side of the brain. The clot jammed the flow of blood and it eventually grew almost 12 millimetres long.
Laird was lucky to have arrived at the hospital within a three-hour time window when treatment is most effectual. She was administered tPA, an intravenous clot-busting drug.
She showed a slight improvement and moved her arm a little. Thereafter, Whapham took over her treatment. He inserted the Penumbra in an artery in the groin and moved it up through her heart and carotid artery into the brain. Subsequently, the clot was busted using a tiny agitator and the debris was removed through a thin tube. Thus, the flow of blood to the right side of the brain, which controls the left part of the body, was normalised.
Talking about the method, Whapham said: "It is a very high stakes procedure."
He added: "Time is brain...You have less time to waste with a stroke than you do with a heart attack."
Laird is recovering and is now receiving physical therapy and occupational therapy at Loyola.
She said: "The procedure gave me another chance...I have a lot to be thankful for."