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August 9, 2014

I am ... A Survivor


Young teen suffers a massive stroke during a basketball game.

My name is Kyle Reynolds and I am from Hopkins, Minnesota. On January 21st, 2003 during a varsity basketball game sometime during the first quarter I suffered a stroke. I received an inbound pass from teammate Kris Humphries, and began to advance the ball up court. When I met my defender, I quickly switched from right to left with a crossover dribble. However, when I crossed over my left hand was non responsive. Nevertheless, I was able to RECOVER the ball and pass it back to Kris.

Then, I began to stumble around in a disoriented manner. Onlookers described me as appearing drunk, but I was unaware of this behavior and internally I thought I was still in the game. I was stumbling close to my bench and was guided to a chair moments before collapsing. As previously mentioned, all of this occurred without my awareness. "What's wrong ", questioned everyone? A squirt of water into my mouth revealed that the stroke was manifesting itself, as the water trickled down my face, the facial droop had begun. One of my teammates parents, Bill Rosenberg, recognized the early signs of Stroke through the facial droop cue.

They called for an ambulance to rush me to the emergency room. In addition, my stepfather is a physician, and he understood that every second without oxygen to the brain would result in greater loss of tissue. Therefore, he called the hospital prior to my arrival to warn them of my arrival. After a battery of nearly every test imaginable, the doctors found a tear in my carotid artery. The tear lead to a clot formation from the blood coagulating until the clot shot into my brain. As my cold naked body laid lifelessly on the operating table, the neurologist informed my parents that I suffered a massive stroke, and that the outcome would be bleak, at best.

They were provided with two options: First, they could do nothing and I would have been paralyzed or in a vegetable state, or they could introduce a new drug called tPA that could break the clot. However, because tPA is most effective 3 hours post stroke, there was a chance that it could make the clot burst which would have ended my life. My parents knew that their son wouldn't want to live the remainder of his life in a wheelchair, so they rolled the dice and administered the tPA. I was fortunate that the drug was effective at dissolving the clot, and that I was rushed to North Memorial Medical center in Robbinsdale, MN because it was the only hospital at this time that used tPA.

Had I arrived at any other hospital besides North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, I most likely would have died. Subsequently, the tPA was successful at dissolving the clot, but the neurologists informed my parents that I had sustained substantial brain damage. I remember waking sometime in the early hours of the morning. My mother and a nurse were in the hospital room when I awoke, and my mom, Lisa told me that I had a stroke. Under the influence of the anesthesia, I couldn't accurately process what that meant, so my response to my mom was... " Does that mean I don't have to go to school tomorrow"?

Little did I know, it would be an extended period of time before I would return to back to my junior year in high school. I drifted in and out of consciousness the first few days, as they doctors tried to deduce the cause of the cerebral vascular accident. The first thing that came to everyone's mind was drugs. I was an athlete and obsessively healthy and had never used drugs because I was very cognizant to only put healthy foods in my body. I also didn't have any FAMILY HISTORY of stoke, or high cholesterol.

The next step was to review the video tape from the game. They believed I may have been elbowed in the neck during the game which could have caused the tear in my carotid. However, upon review of the tape there was one instance of a screen I was trying to fight through where my opponents elbows hit me on the left side of my neck. Since my injury occurred on the right side of my carotid, it wasn't likely that was the source of the injury. The only explanation was that it must have been a freak accident.

I have since graduated from the University of Minnesota against all odds. I hope that my success can be a vehicle to inspire others to shoot for the impossible.

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