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Patient Story

Happy to Tell the Story

Many of our patient are proud to share their stories with you and the community. They are each effected in a different way from their experience at Palmetto Health's Primary Stroke Center.

Bud Harrelson never knew he would become a fan of vampire bats. Carolyn Marks hadn't felt well most of the day, but was heading home where she could lie down and hopefully feel better.

Bud Harrelson did not make it to the hospital in time to be given the clot-busting drug tPA, but there was still hope. You have to arrive within three hours of the onset of stroke symptoms to qualify for tPA therapy. Dr. Souvik Sen is aninvestigator of a new drug that dissolves clots and can be used up to nine hours after the onset off symptoms. It uses vampire bat venom as the clot buster in this drug.  Mr. Harrelson was offered the opportunity to be a part of this clinical trial to see if his symptoms would go away, with the injection of a new drug being tested. Mr. Harrelson was told there was a 50-50 chance that he would get the "real thing" or he would get the placebo (nothing). He said later, "What did I have to lose.  I was paralyzed on one side and couldn't speak."

The drug was given and within seconds a wound on the top of his head began to bleed.  His daughter said, "We knew right then he had gotten the real thing. We were all so excited." Today, November of 2012, Mr. Harrelson goes around to seminars and community events to tell his story and he is back dancing with his wife, which they love to do.  

Mr. Harrelson and Dr. Souvik Sen, Chair of the Department of Neurology at USC School of Medicine, Columbia, SC, affectionately share the same nickname, "Batman".

Carolyn Marks a Columbia business woman hadn't felt well at work. "I felt like I was in a fog," she told us. At quitting time she made her routine stop by the ladies' room when a co-worker noticed her drooping face.  She inquired as to what was wrong. Ms. Marks didn't answer appropriately, so the co-worker yelled for someone to call 9-1-1. The quick action from her co-worker saved Ms. Marks from either death or long-term disability. Ms. Marks was headed home to lie down and hope to feel better when she woke up. This is often the story we hear. When the patient awakens, in most cases it is too late for treatment and the brain damage has been done.

EMS arrived and Ms. Marks remembers very little. The neurologist on duty at Palmetto Health Richland was not as pleased with the efficiency of the tPA results, so he called in the intervention team. Within a few hours, Ms. Marks was headed to the specials procedure room to have a procedure done with the Solitaire device. This device is a "restore and remove" device. It has the capability to bore through the clot and allow blood to pass through the cannula (tube) hence restoring blood to the brain before the clot is even removed. Then the interventionist (physician) can remove the clot with the same device. 

Ms. Marks went home in less than three days and felt as though she was "back to normal".  Mission accomplished.