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Life-Saving Blood Clot Surgery Helps Stroke Patient’s Miraculous Recovery
07/10/2013

FORT WORTH, Texas — Jeremy Cockburn says it’s “God’s fortune” that he canceled a planned camping trip alone with his two kids, 3 and 6 years old, on May 11.

Physical Therapist Jessica Davis works with Jeremy Cockburn on balance days after he suffered a massive stroke.
Physical Therapist Jessica Davis works with Jeremy Cockburn on balance days after he suffered a massive stroke.
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Instead, the 54-year-old was at home with his family when he started seeing double vision and speaking incoherently to his wife. Worried, she called 911 for help.

“I was walking and talking like Herman Munster,” Cockburn said. “I was awake, but I didn’t understand how severe I looked on the outside. I kept trying to respond to people and they weren’t hearing me.”

Cockburn was rushed by ambulance to the emergency department at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth. By the time he arrived, he couldn’t move the right side of his body or follow simple directions. On the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale, an assessment tool caregivers use to evaluate the severity of impairment from the stroke, a score of 20 is considered a severe stroke while a score of 40 is comatose. Cockburn scored a 33.

“He was close to death,” said Dr. Ronald Gerstle, an interventional radiologist on the medical staff at Texas Health Fort Worth. “He suffered a near-fatal stroke. When that happens, you try anything you can to get in and fix it. About 15 to 20 percent of the time, you get a good recovery.”

Cockburn’s wife, April, was told to prepare for the worst when he went in for a thrombectomy, an emergency blood clot removal procedure that would extract a large blockage from the base of his brain in the left vertebral artery. During a thrombectomy, a physician carefully guides a catheter through an artery in the groin up to the brain. Once the catheter is in place, a tiny mechanical device is used to break up or remove the clot. Typically, treatment of stroke patients involves administration of a clot-busting medication, but Cockburn’s stroke was so severe that it would not have been as effective, Gerstle said.

Twelve hours after he hit the door of the emergency department, Cockburn was up walking and talking without difficulty. His Stroke Scale score was now a 1.

“It’s not typical to see a stroke patient, especially one who experienced a stroke this severe, recover that quickly,” said Sheri Muska, stroke coordinator for Texas Health Fort Worth. “Normally you’d expect to see them in physical therapy for a long period afterward. He has done amazing. He is a miracle walking.”

About Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth is 726-bed, Magnet-designated regional referral center that has served the residents of Tarrant County since 1930. The hospital’s services include cardiovascular services, high-risk and routine obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedics and sports medicine, neonatal intensive care, and trauma/emergency medicine. Texas Health Fort Worth is also home to the 100-bed Texas Health Harris Methodist Heart Center. An affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system, Texas Health Fort Worth has more than 4,000 employees, 200 volunteers and nearly 1,000 physicians practicing on the medical staff. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org/FortWorth.

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health systems in the United States. The health system includes 24 acute care and short-stay hospitals that are owned, operated, joint-ventured or affiliated with Texas Health Resources. It includes the Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Arlington Memorial and Texas Health Harris Methodist hospitals, a large physician group, outpatient facilities, and home health, preventive and fitness services, and an organization for medical research and education.

For more information about Texas Health Resources, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org.

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