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Novant Health named state’s lead health system for aneurysm awareness

Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center has been named the lead hospital in North Carolina to hold aneurysm support group meetings for survivors and their loved ones. Joe Niekro Foundation chose the hospital due to their efforts to discover a treatment for cerebrovascular diseases. Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center is the only hospital in North Carolina to hold Joe Niekro Foundation-sponsored support group meetings.

The support group will begin to meet on April 19 and will continue to meet every third Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. in the Novant Health Conference Center, located on the campus of Forsyth Medical Center. The meetings are open to all brain aneurysm survivors and the family and friends who are their support system.

The meetings will consist of a brief educational talk on topics of interest, followed by separate group sessions for aneurysm survivors and their supporting friends and family. Food and parking will be provided.

Dr. Donald Heck, director of neurointerventional radiology at the Novant Health Forsyth Stroke and Neurosciences, has been the lead physician on the center’s efforts for aneurysm research. “As we strive to provide the best possible care for brain aneurysm patients, we realize that there are limits to what doctors, hospitals and the best technology can do,” Heck said. “The Niekro Foundation adds an important element to the care of not just our patients, but will be a priceless resource for all brain aneurysm patients and their families in North Carolina."

Heck is a seven-year board member of the Society of Neurointerventional Surgery (SNIS), and a co-author of published multi-societal guidelines for the treatment of cerebrovascular diseases, including stroke and brain aneurysms. Heck is active in cerebrovascular research trials and has published multiple peer-reviewed journal articles.

The Joe Niekro Foundation was created in honor of Joe Niekro, a 22-year veteran of professional baseball who died suddenly in October 2006 from a cerebral brain aneurysm. Natalie Niekro, Joe’s daughter, created the foundation to increase public awareness and support of aneurysms and aneurysm research.

"We are proud to bring the Joe Niekro Foundation to North Carolina. The foundation is the product of Natalie Neikro's passion to do something positive with the grief following her father's untimely death from a brain aneurysm,” said Heck. “She had the insight to realize that brain aneurysm survivors and the people that love them need each other to further the healing process.” 

The Joe Niekro Foundation is committed to supporting patients and families, research, treatment and awareness of brain aneurysms, arteriovenous malformation (AVMs) and hemorrhagic strokes. The foundation provides education on the risk factors, causes and treatments of these conditions, while funding the advancement of neurological research.

“The foundation is very similar to other support groups for Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis, with the difference that we will be the only one in the state,” said Dr. Rashid Janjua, director of interventional neurosurgery and skull base surgery at Forsyth Brain and Spine Surgery. “Novant Health is pleased to be part of such an outstanding organization that provides such a great service to patients.”

For more information on support group meetings, please email [email protected]

Posted on Thursday, March 24, 2016