Houston man first to undergo procedure for stroke

A man from Houston is the very first patient to undergo a new procedure to treat stroke patients. He was back on his feet just a few days after his procedure.

The hope is that his case could help pave the way to treat future stroke patients faster than ever.

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Roy James is fully recovered from the stroke, after scaring his loving wife.

"I got really dizzy and distorted, my balance fell. So I grabbed on the wall. So I said, I wonder what's going on. Because I have high blood pressure, said maybe my blood pressure is up? So, I made it to my bed, and I went to sit down on my bed, and I fell, I couldn't get up," explains Roy.

His wife called 911, and an ambulance rushed him to Memorial Hermann Memorial City.

Roy was suffering from an ischemic stroke. His surgeon tells us a major blood vessel on the right side of his brain was blocked off, paralyzing the left side of his body. He instantly received an IV blood thinner, but when the blood clot didn't dissolve, they raced him to surgery.

"His wife was very keen on picking up the symptoms of a stroke very early. Roy was confused, he wasn't able to move the left side of his body, and rightfully so, his wife noticed this very quickly in the stage of his disease process. He was brought into the hospital very quickly," states Dr. Ashutosh Mahapatra, who is conducting the THUNDER clinical trial through UTHealth Houston and Memorial Hermann.

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He's testing a new way to remove a blood clot after stroke.

"Time is brain! That's kind of a mantra we live by. So, I think the major thing that helped was us being able to open up this artery very quickly and restore that blood flow, so that the damage that he sustained to his brain was very minimal," states Dr. Mahapatra.

The surgical team used one of the gold standard procedures to suction out the clot in Roy's brain, called aspiration, but using a different tubing system this time. 

"Nothing new is going inside the patient's body, but the tubing system is special in that it provides a different approach. Instead of a continuous pressure, it modulates the pressure. So, it's a quick on - off system that we believe does better or can be effective in getting the clot out faster," explains Dr. Mahapatra.

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Roy was able to get up out of bed in ICU in just two days.

"It was just so remarkable! Everything just fell into place. If I'm not 100%, I'm 99," says a laughing Roy.

He has made a few lifestyle changes and feels better than ever!

"I lost about 15 pounds! I did it personally! You've got to realize when it's time to do the right thing. So, I lost weight, and I changed my eating habits. Walking about three miles a day. I exercise," says Roy.

He sure hopes that will prevent him from ever going through another stroke.

While Roy was the first patient to undergo this procedure, the team with UTHealth Houston has now performed it on seven patients. They'll need to get around 200 of them successfully completed and then assess the results, before this moves on to become standard care.

For more information about all types of clinical trials at UTHealth Houston: https://www.uth.edu/ctrc/ongoing-clinical-trials