As Mardeene Mitchell started the four blocks to the bed and breakfast inn where she works, she started to feel very tired. Determined to make it to the inn, Mitchell walked on—each step more difficult than the one before.

“My body felt like lead. I couldn't move. I didn't know I was having a stroke,” Mitchell said.

The unexpected

Upon reaching her destination, her boss realized something wasn’t right. Both he and Mitchell thought a brief rest would make things better. But it didn’t. When her boss came to check on her a short time later, Mitchell could barely speak. He decided to call for an ambulance.

By the time paramedics arrived Mitchell couldn’t move her left side and she felt herself slipping away.

The 10K runner, avid tennis player, writer and grandmother had suffered a massive stroke. A CT scan showed a large blood clot, about the size of a penny, was blocking the main artery in the middle of the right hemisphere of her brain. The images showed no blood was flowing to most of the right side of her brain.

Innovative treatment

The team immediately gave Mitchell tPA through an IV to try to dissolve the clot. But the clot was too big. So she was taken to the Marcus Stroke Center’s neuroangiography suite for a thrombectomy to physically remove the clot.

“My body felt like lead. I couldn't move. I didn't know I was having a stroke."

Mitchell explained, “Dr. Raul Nogueira went in­—I didn't even know they could do this, but he went in to the artery in my brain and sucked out those blood clots. How cool is that?”

It’s a procedure the Grady Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center team have done many times over the last five years, once dubbed experimental, but now a recognized treatment for ischemic stroke.

By snaking a catheter from Mitchell’s groin up to her brain, the neuroendovascular specialist deployed a tool that captured and absorbed the clot. When the devices were removed, blood flow was immediately restored to the affected part of Mitchell’s brain. And the symptoms, loss of function that Mitchell had experienced disappeared just as quickly as they had begun a few hours earlier.

Five days after her procedure, Mitchell was back home and with no need for physical or occupational therapy and no lasting damage from the stroke. It was back to life as normal—running, tennis, writing and best of all, time with her grandchildren.