Patient Stories

A near-fatal stroke

June 20, 2012

A near-fatal stroke

When a guy hits a certain point in his life, he starts dreaming about the car he always wanted.

For Eric Knoth, it was a ’67 Camero – a real beauty with low miles.

Eric came to Omaha from Clarinda, Iowa, a two-hour drive to meet with with an auto body shop guy about getting his car up to speed. Then something went wrong.

“While I was talking to him, I could tell I was losing focus,” he said.

Minutes later, they were calling 9-1-1. Eric had collapsed.

“I remember being in the ambulance and I kept telling them I have to make it for my wife and daughters,” he recalled.

Medics rushed Eric to CHI Health Immanuel Medical Center where Chad Shuff, M.D., was waiting for him.

“I just remember him saying don’t let me die,” Dr. Shuff said. “And I remember looking up at his wife, looking at her eyes. You could see the worry but the confidence in her eyes. That really just rubbed off on all of us in the ED that day.”

The confidence came from knowing Dr. Shuff and his team had a plan in place to treat her husband. Eric had suffered a stroke – a rare, often fatal stroke – and he was running out of time.

Dr. Shuff says, “as far as hemorrhagic strokes go, he was as bad as I’ve seen in awhile.”

Eric had several things working in his favor. He was young, healthy and at Immanuel Medical Center – a nationally Certified Stroke Center. There’s no guesswork here. Protocol dictates a quick course of action.

“There’s so much work, preparation and development before the patient even comes through our ED doors,” says Dr. Shuff. “When they get here, they are already set down the path of excellent outcomes. It’s checklist medicine – nothing gets missed – everybody is on the same page as far as their treatment. There’s no hodge podge medical care going on and I think that’s why Alegent has been so successful.”

Eric is living proof. He spent four days in intensive care, then it was on to therapy at Immanuel Rehabilitation Center.

“Whatever they did in the ER department made it so I was able to recover fully or as full as I have – so it started there,” he says.

Eric’s arm is at 80 percent – his leg will be there in another year. Eric is still a work in progress, but then again, so is that ’67 Camero.

“As soon as I’m done being restored, I’m going to restore the car.”

All metro area CHI Health hospitals are Certified Stroke Centers. That means they have the experts and systems in place to quickly treat stroke symptoms. Those procedures dramatically increase the chance for survival.

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