Karen Hill couldn't get her fingers to work properly as she was getting ready for bed one night. Then she started to slur her speech and couldn't move the left side of her body, all signs of a stroke. Karen was one of the lucky ones; the EMT's who came to her home knew that Tacoma General Hospital was a top stroke center and made sure to take her there. But the nearly news wasn't so positive. The drugs that doctors used to try to break up the blood clot that caused Karen's stroke didn't work and she was facing the possibility of major damage and disability. Fortunately, though, her medical team had another option: a new medical device they were testing that they believed could break up the clot quickly.
Karen agreed to take part in a study of the device and almost as soon as the seven-minute procedure to remove the clot was completed, her symptoms disappeared. She could move her left arm and leg and her speech returned to normal, all signs the stroke had left hardly any permanent damage. Today, the only vestige of Karen's stroke is a slight sagging on the left side of her face when she's tired. She says she's extremely fortunate to have been part of the study and is delighted that is has now been opened up nationwide to benefit other patients who might otherwise face a bleak and frightening future.
"If I hadn’t had this intervention, I probably would have spent the rest of my life paralyzed on one side. These studies are invaluable—how else will we progress in our knowledge and save lives? And you never know whose life you’re going to save. It could be a member of your family or someone who is going to change the world."
- Karen Hill
- Karen Hill