Living a full life, even after two strokes

Dave and Colleen KaneIf you saw Dave Kane outside his Iowa City home shoveling snow in winter or watering the lawn in spring, you’d never guess this active 78-year-old had had two strokes — including one that could have left him debilitated for life.

But while paying for groceries in December 2014, Dave felt himself losing his balance. His money and his wallet fell to the floor just before he did. Minutes later, he lost the ability to talk, and one side of his body was paralyzed.

Next he remembers hearing store employees telling him an ambulance was on the way.

“Everything happened so fast,” Dave says.

And that turned out to be a good thing.

Fast response to stroke makes all the difference

Dave was rushed to University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, home of Iowa’s only Comprehensive Stroke Center. There, after evaluation by the UI stroke team, he was moved into the operating room, where Santiago Ortega, MD, was able to surgically remove a clot from an artery in Dave’s brain using a procedure called thrombectomy, a new life-saving technique only available from a Comprehensive Stroke Center like the UI’s.

Dave walked out of the hospital four days later.

“He’s able to continue living life like he always did,” says Colleen Kane, Dave’s wife. “I thought he’d be in a wheelchair and I’d be taking care of him. But he’s recovered so well.”

A year later, Dave had another, less-serious stroke caused by a buildup of plaque inside his right carotid artery that reduced blood flow to his brain. Ortega repaired the artery using a minimally invasive technique called carotid angioplasty, and he inserted a stent to prevent future strokes.

In both cases, timing was crucial.

“A lot of factors influenced his successful treatment,” Ortega says, “including rapid recognition of the stroke, outstanding EMS transfer, rapid triage in our ER, and our unique comprehensive stroke team.”

The right place at the right time

These days, Dave and Colleen are quick to laugh, even when they tell stories about Dave’s two strokes. That’s because they understand how fortunate they’ve been.

“It was a miracle,” Colleen says. “Dr. Ortega really did save Dave’s life with this procedure. We had the right hospital, the right doctor, the right team.”

Iowa City, Iowa