Avera Medical Minute: Life-saving procedure after stroke

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - Stanley Schmidt loves music. He's been a choir conductor and host of an Omaha based radio show featuring choir music for decades. He's looking forward to hearing more music, with a new sense of gratitude, after a medical emergency almost took his life.

Dr. Alex Linn reviews test results

"I didn't know I was having a stroke. Never thought that. The next thing I knew I was waking up and my whole life has changed," said Schmidt.

Norma noticed something was wrong first. There were periods of not being himself, incoherent thoughts, and multiple trips to the fridge to find things that he couldn't recognize.

"Then he started talking gibberish. Things you couldn't understand. I said 'Stan, we're not going to go to church this morning, we're going to go to a different doctor' so we went to Avera Hospital Emergency," said Norma.

More tests revealed a blockage in an artery in his brain. Stanley needed help right away.

Avera Neuro-Endovascular Physician Dr. Alex Linn provided the family with the information. "We had a heart to heart conversation about look, this is something really bad that's going on, we have a way to fix that, we can open that vessel or that blockage with angioplasty and stenting from the inside of the vessel, but it's one of the higher risk procedures that we do in the Neuro-Endovascular space," said Dr. Linn.

As soon as the blood flow returned to that artery, his symptoms started to improve, right away.

Dr. Linn was new at Avera, part of the Neuro-Endovascular group specializing in the head neck and spine.

"That's when Doctor Linn performed a miracle. We think it's God sent because of the way he came onto the staff on Monday and was able to do this for Stan on Friday," said Norma.

"It's just what came about, and it's what needed to be done, and I'm thankful that everything went well, not only for Stanley's case but for the program itself as well," said Dr. Linn.

After reversing the blockage in his brain that caused the stroke, Stanley was in an intensive live-in rehabilitation program in the Prairie Center on the main Avera McKennan Campus. His day was filled with physical and occupational and speech therapy. Now that he's back home, he continues therapy twice per week.

Norma describes the feeling of having her husband next to her. "Complete joy because Stan would still be with us," said Norma.