It was Jan. 8, 2017 at 5 a.m. when Brian Steele received a call from his family informing him that his uncle, Scottie Hill, had suffered a massive stroke and was in the hospital receiving care.
“My family told me that Scottie was transported to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte and his prognosis wasn’t good,” he recalled. “The doctors couldn’t pinpoint the exact time he suffered the stroke, which the doctors explained, was information that was crucial to his recovery.”
Hill was suffering from cerebral venous thrombosis, which is an uncommon form of stroke. It occurs when a blood clot forms and blocks blood from draining from the brain, ultimately resulting in a hemorrhage. Hill remained unconscious with fluid on his brain and massive brain swelling for approximately 10 days.
Novant Health’s comprehensive stroke team, which includes neurosurgeon, Dr. Ziad Hage worked to remove Hill’s blood clot initially with a heparin injection, an anticoagulant that can decrease the clotting ability of the blood. Unfortunately, Hill did not respond favorably with the injection and Hage began surgery to extract the clot from Hill’s brain – a highly specialized procedure known as chemical and mechanical thrombectomy.
“Heparin injections are always our first line of treatment for this specific type of stroke,” Hage said. “Our goal is to reopen the vein without surgical intervention. However, on a case-by-case basis, the decision must be made to proceed with endovascular treatment if the patient’s health continues to decline and the procedure will improve their overall outcome. This was Mr. Hill’s best-case scenario.”
The family prayed and kept constant vigil over Hill. After 21 days of work from the neurosciences team, Hill arose from his coma. Now the neurosurgeons had to determine what kind of brain activity remained and how much damage was caused by the stroke. Test results showed some brain activity but also showed some brain damage.
“About 30 days after his stroke, a miracle began to happen. Scottie started to give us subtle smiles and he was able to follow us with his eyes and raise his hands,” Steele said. “We continued to work with him and eventually the nursing staff was able to move him from his bed to a recliner. That day he had the biggest smile on his face. You could tell he was so relieved to be sitting up. He laughed that day and was even talking to us in sentences. I’ll never forget it.”
After months of therapy, Hill is able to stand and walk with assistance. He can move all of his limbs on command and can communicate with his friends and family more clearly. He still has areas that may show improvement over time but they will occur at a slower pace.
“This was a surreal experience for Scottie and our family,” Steele said. “To go from Scottie having a stroke at the beginning of the year to now, five months later, speaking in sentences and up walking around with a cane or walker, it’s nothing short of a miracle. I can’t say enough about the phenomenal care the physicians at Novant Health provided and how extremely encouraging the nursing staff was to our family. I truly believe that Scottie’s recovery would not be possible without the support he received. You can never underestimate the power of faith and family.”
Hage said he believes that Hill’s recuperation will continue, but says that his recovery has already been remarkable considering how serious and critical his condition was when he was admitted to the hospital. He attributes this recovery to Hill’s perseverance and the specialized therapies used to treat his condition.
“There are only a few specialized neurosciences centers in the country that are capable of achieving such results due to the specialized training of the neurosciences team. I’m proud to be a part of one of those teams here at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center,” Hage said.
To learn about stroke visit NovantHealth.org/stroke.