Groundbreaking DAWN study findings change treatment for stroke victims

Study changes treatment for stroke victims

CLEVELAND - Six months ago, News 5 introduced you to an 82-year-old stroke victim from Eastlake. Bessie Chervon was part of a groundbreaking trial - the DAWN study. Results were so good, the trial ended early.

The results were just presented and the study's findings are saving more and more lives.

Stroke treatment trial so successful, doctors at University Hospitals call it a miracle

Lives like Connie LeBlanc's. She just turned 92.

"How lucky have I been," she said.

It was a birthday that just a month ago didn't seem like it would happen.

"I remembered laying on my bedroom floor and I thought, 'why can't I get up?'" 

Connie had suffered a stroke.

"And they said it doesn't have a good prognosis, likely you have to look into palliative care," explained Connies daughter, Cindy Yanasack. 

"A 91-year-old woman with a massive stroke, ten hours out. Sounds bad," said Dr. Michael DeGeorgia, Director of the Neurocritical Care Center at University Hospitals.

Connie was well beyond the standard six hour window for treatment, but doctors at UH were hopeful.

"This shows the area of brain tissue that was at risk for permanent damage, though not damaged yet," said Dr. DeGeorgia, pointing to Connie's MRI scans.

UH had been part of the DAWN trial, looking at whether patients beyond that six-hour window could benefit from having their clots removed.

Connie's scans showed her brain tissue was still salvageable.

"Either we try this and maybe something good will happen, or we don't do anything and she's not going to get better," noted Cindy.

She says the decision was a no-brainer.

"When I walked in her room in the morning, she was sitting in a chair with a nurse, talking, moving both arms, moving both legs, and at that moment it's like it was a complete miracle that happened," Cindy recalled.

And today, you'd never guess that just a month earlier, Connie was paralyzed.

"You've gone from palliative care to back home, to normal," remarked Dr. DeGeorgia. "That's pretty amazing."

"I'm really, really grateful for that," said Connie.

"This woman's a fighter and she's coming back strong," her daughter added.

Dr. DeGeorgia calls this a total game-changer for stroke treatment. It is now protocol at University Hospitals. He said that when the study was presented and they knew how good the results were, they made a decision as a group to continue offering it at UH.

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