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Patient Success Stories

Saving Lives After Stroke

Donna Gudgel woke up at her usual time of 5 a.m. on Tuesday, August 13, 2013.  As she went to get out of bed, she fell to the floor.  A blood clot on the left side of her brain caused a stroke, leaving the 58-year-old unable to move the right side of her body and speak clearly.  Donna thought if she lay back down, she would feel better. She didn’t.  Scared, she contacted her supervisor who recognized Donna’s slurred speech as something critically wrong and called 911.  Emergency medical services (EMS) from Homer Glen arrived at her home and rushed her to the closest primary stroke center, Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox. 

Donna was greeted by the Stroke Team and evaluated by Dr. Silvio Morales*, medical director of the Silver Cross Emergency Department.  Dr. Morales suspected a blood clot in her brain was the cause of Donna’s symptoms and gave her a National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score of 17, which is considered severe and could result in permanent disability.   Knowing that with stroke victims, time is of the essence, Dr. Morales consulted the hospital’s stroke experts, Dr. Subhash Patel*, neurologist, and Dr. Harish Shownkeen*, the medical director of the Neuro Interventional Surgical Program.  Dr. Morales ordered a CT of the brain and CT Perfusion to determine the best course of treatment and to see how much brain tissue could be saved safely.  Unfortunately, too much time had lapsed before Donna arrived at Silver Cross.  She was beyond the treatment window for the clot-busting medicine, t-PA.  Fortunately for Donna, Dr. Shownkeen was able to successfully remove the clot using a minimally invasive procedure involving the Penumbra ACE suction device in Silver Cross’s new state-of-the-art Neuro Interventional Lab

Road to Recovery

Following her interventional procedure, she was sent to the neuro intensive care unit for close monitoring.  The first day after surgery, Donna was able to move her right arm and leg, something she could not have done the day prior.  Her NIHSS score was 5 at that time.  As her healing progressed, she was cared for in the intensive care unit, sixth floor neuro unit, and finally, one week after her initial stroke symptoms, the inpatient rehabilitation unit.  Throughout her entire hospital stay, physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians and therapists from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross helped Donna strengthen her arm and leg movement and improve her memory.  Donna was discharged home from rehab three weeks later with minimal residual stroke symptoms.  

Donna is currently back at home without any residual stroke symptoms and enjoying life again with her beloved Irish Terrier, Baillie. 

“I was fortunate to have the right people at the right place at the right time,” says Donna. “Dr. Shownkeen and all the staff at Silver Cross saved my life.”

*Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care.  These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.

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