With quick treatment, South Florida woman recovers from stroke

Doctors aren’t yet sure what caused Jackie Sansone’s stroke but a life-saving procedure by a team of local doctors has offered her a swift recovery.

The 29-year-old pre-kindergarten teacher had gone home for lunch on Tuesday as she usually did. While driving back to work, she felt a twinge, her vision became blurry and she crashed into her apartment complex’s security gate. At the time, she said, she thought she was going to die.

“I kept losing control over everything,” said Sansone, whose right side and speech were affected.

Sansone, a single mother of one, was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital. She remembers everything.

“I remember everybody’s face and my sister looking at me. I wanted to tell her everything was OK but I couldn’t say it,” said Sansone.

A team of four University of Miami/Jackson doctors immediately began to work on Sansone to make sure the stroke did not cause permanent damage.

The doctors performed a thrombectomy, a procedure to remove a blood clot from the back of Sansone’s neck. Doctors went through the big artery in the leg, the femoral artery, to reach the blood vessel with the clot. The once controversial procedure, which uses a wire, catheter and stent to remove the blood clot, is more effective today due to advances in technology that allow the procedure to be more refined.

“She was almost brain dead. We had to work quickly. This took a concerted effort from multiple disciplines,” said Dr. Ali Aziz- Sultan, UM/Jackson neurosurgeon and director of neuroendovascular surgery.

Sansone, who lives in Southwest Miami-Dade, said as soon as they removed the clot she felt herself returning to normal. Within seconds, she was able to respond to doctors’ commands to lift her arms.

The procedure took less than 45 minutes to complete. Dr. Eric Peterson, a UM/Jackson neurosurgeon, said that he rarely sees patients recover as quickly from the procedure.

“That day I actually felt like I saved someone’s life,” Peterson said.

Dr. Gustavo Ortiz, also a UM/Jackson neurologist, said they are still investigating what could have triggered the stroke.

“We haven’t finished all the tests yet since this happened just a few days ago,” Ortiz said.

Doctors said Sansone may be released from the hospital as early as this weekend.

Sansone’s sister, who was there when she was rushed to the hospital, was thrilled to see the dramatic recovery. So was Sansone. “When I started talking, it was surreal. I was back,” said Sansone.

According the American Stroke Association, signs of a stroke can include face drooping, arm weakness or speech difficulty.

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