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31st January 2020 Latest News Stroke

Roslyne beats stroke with lifesaving new treatment

Roslyne Harkness – Roslyne beats stroke with life saving new treatment

Revolutionary stroke trial at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

Roslyne Harkness was your typical active and healthy 66-year-old grandmother of eight when suddenly, one morning last year, she collapsed with what turned out to be the early stages of a stroke.

A clot had occurred in the back of her brain in the basilar artery – a location which is usually fatal in 65 per cent of cases.

But thanks to world-leading research led by Associate Professor Tim Kleinig at the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH), and supported by The Hospital Research Foundation (THRF), Roslyne not only survived the stroke but has made a remarkable recovery!

Ros fell heavily while getting out of bed at 6.30am on the day of her stroke – a day she and husband Graeme had been due to look after three of their young grandchildren.

Graeme was immediately concerned and, despite Ros being conscious and able to say she just felt dizzy and hot, he called an ambulance and advised of a possible stroke.

“The triple-0 responder asked me what her breathing was like and it was what they call the ‘death rattle’. The ambulance came very quickly and took her to the RAH,” Graeme said.

“She blacked out soon after which is pretty serious with stroke. Her clot was stopping blood flow to the whole brain and breathing is the first to go.”

Upon presenting to the RAH, a nurse gave Graeme a harsh dose of reality: “We’ve scanned your wife – it’s a full blockage – if we can’t retrieve it she’ll die,” he recalled.

Thankfully, another nurse came out shortly afterwards with a doctor on the phone – it was A/Prof Kleinig asking for permission to administer what ended up being a lifesaving treatment.

“Then it’s hard to say how long, maybe about an hour or so later, the nurse came back and said they’d retrieved the blockage, your wife can speak and raise both hands. It was remarkable.”

Game changers in stroke care

Endovascular thrombectomy has been a game changer in stroke care over the past five years. It is a procedure which involves pulling the clot out directly from the affected artery in the brain.

RAH stroke patients – including Roslyne – are lucky enough to be getting the latest advancements in this world-leading treatment, with A/Prof Kleinig’s current trial using thrombectomy in conjunction with a groundbreaking new clot dissolving medication called Tenecteplase.

This could not have been possible without the support of THRF!

“Roslyne got the higher dose of the medication and the clot shifted from the basilar artery to the posterior cerebral artery,” A/Prof Kleinig said.

“So the most serious part of the stroke was averted by the Tenecteplase clot dissolving medication and we kept the brain alive until she could have the thrombectomy and the rest of the clot was pulled out.

“She got the greatest benefit and she’s essentially made a complete recovery from something which was very likely to have been a fatal stroke otherwise.

“Roslyne is the epitome of the benefits of clinical research!”

Roslyne’s recovery

Roslyne’s life was saved that morning, but she still had to recover from the initial onset of the stroke. However she is now fighting fit again, looking after her grandchildren and travelling the world with Graeme and friends.

“We are so grateful to Tim Kleinig and his team at the RAH and THRF who make all this possible. We’ve been very very lucky,” Roslyne said.

Importance of supporting medical research

Thanks to our generous donors, THRF is able to support these advancements in stroke care to save the lives of people like Roslyne!

More than 250 patients have taken part in this trial at the RAH over the past two years, with the results contributing to collaborative studies around the world. Together with your help, Tenecteplase may soon be approved as standard care for stroke and save more lives.