Edward Neurosciences Institute: "New hope for beating stroke." Read the Chicago Sun-Times story.
New hope for beating stroke
PROFILE | Quick work by professionals trained in neuroscience saves life
February 24, 2010
BY SANDY THORN CLARK
Jenny Gao had no idea she was suffering a stroke when she became dizzy while tending to her cats and preparing breakfast at 6 a.m. Dec. 4. Frightened and unable to move or call out to her husband for help, she couldn't fully comprehend time was her enemy.
Now "miraculously" recovered, Gao, 52, wants others to know that time is critical when faced with a medical emergency.
"For strokes, every minute counts. Each second, thousands of neurons die due to lack of oxygen and nutrients," explains Gao, whose estimated 30 murmurs of "Please come down and help me," "I cannot get up," and "I need you to help" finally garnered the attention of her husband, Jeff An, asleep upstairs in their Lisle home.
Gao's husband called 911, and ambulance paramedics began IVs while transporting Gao -- unable to move her left arm and left leg -- to nearby Naperville's Edward Hospital and its state-of-the-art Edward Neurosciences Institute, one of 17 Primary Stroke Centers in the Chicago area.
Once a stroke was detected, neuroscience advanced nurse practitioner Kathy Baule rushed Gao to the institute's neuroendovascular surgery suite, where Dr. Jeffrey Miller, one of only 300 neurointerventionalists in the United States, used a minimally invasive Merci Retrieval device to remove the massive clot disrupting the flow of blood to Gao's brain.
"The short amount of time in getting her into our neuroendovascular surgery suite was critical to her tremendous outcome," emphasizes Miller, founder of the Edward Neurosciences Institute -- a unique partnership between Edward Hospital and Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation -- which officially opened in September.
"Mrs. Gao suffered from a complete occlusion of an artery that is responsible for half of her brain's blood supply," he said. "The likelihood of surviving this type of initial neurological insult was very low. Having survived, she would have permanently lost the ability to speak and use of half of her body [had she not been attended to by stroke specialists]."
Gao, who considered herself very healthy -- choosing to walk seven flights of stairs many times on weekdays at her media/advertising job in Downers Grove -- was surprised to learn her stroke was unpreventable and attributed to PFO, a defect in the wall between the two upper chambers of her heart, originating at birth. Gao, who lived in China for 36 years before moving to Chicago, walked out of the hospital three days after surgery, and returned to work Jan. 4.
Refusing to call herself a stroke survivor, Gao, instead, insists she was "saved": "My stroke experience showed me how I was saved by many factors completely out of my control. I would never have survived by myself. I was saved by other human beings, closest to me and total strangers: my dear husband, paramedic workers, doctors, nurses and others."
A third-generation physician, Miller credits an injury that sidelined him from playing football at the University of Miami as the impetus for his pursuit of neuroscience, especially concussions sustained in sports.
Miller, who realized early in his medical school career that neurosciences and especially stroke treatment/recovery were his "calling," sees approximately 50 stroke patients per month, developing what he calls "a lifelong commitment" to their health and well-being.
"This human element to medicine is what fascinates me the most, and is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job," he adds.
Miller's wife, Anita, a nurse he met while completing his neuroendovascular fellowship at Northwestern -- of course, during surgery on a stroke patient-- serves as neuroscience education and outreach nurse at Edward Hospital. They live in Naperville with their son, Athan, 13, and the family's "lap dog" Gunner, a 95-pound Weimaraner.
Naperville, Illinois (IL) - Edward Hospital and Health Services