PATIENT STORIES | REBECCA

AUG 2018

Life is sweeter for one stroke patient who beat the odds

In February 2018, Rebecca Quesada almost lost her life when an ordinary day started on the wrong side of the bed. She still remembers waking up around 5 a.m., unable to move the right side of her body. She tried to get out of bed but fell.

Her 20-year old son was asleep in a nearby bedroom and she could have made enough noise to get his attention. But this caring mother, an administrative assistant at her church, didn’t want to awaken him early. So she waited, unknowingly putting her life in greater jeopardy.

Rebecca had suffered a stroke. A cerebral blood vessel was blocked, cutting off the delivery of oxygen to her brain. If doctors could use a procedure known as a thrombectomy and remove the blockage within six hours, her chances of recovery would be good.

By the time an ambulance rushed Rebecca to a local emergency room in Corpus Christi, several hours had already ticked past.

Doctors there knew they were racing against the clock. Rebecca’s best chance for survival was at University Hospital in San Antonio, which operates one of the few certified, comprehensive stroke centers in Texas.

But it took several more hours for Rebecca to be airlifted, and by the time she was admitted, more than six hours had elapsed since the onset of her stroke.

Doctors at University Hospital, however, were familiar with a new brain imaging technique that allows them to identify patients who can still benefit from the removal of a brain clot for up to 16 hours after a stroke.

Rebecca was a candidate. Doctors removed her clot and restored the flow of blood to her brain. She remembers being able to move her paralyzed right side almost immediately.

“I was lifting both arms and both legs a day after the procedure,” she said.

A little over a year later, she’s mostly regained her strength. She’s lost 75 pounds, which has improved her health, and she’s exercising regularly at a gym.

Rebecca drives, shops at the farmers market and is back to processing the payroll and organizing events at her church.

“I’m very lucky, and I thank the Lord for that,” she said. “I get a second chance at life.”

Her near-death experience has only increased her appreciation for those special moments, like seeing her son graduate and begin a new job.

“Life,” she says, “is definitely sweeter today.”

For more information about University Health System’s innovative programs, visit universityhealthsystem.com.

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