Blanette Wright awoke one morning with numbness on her right side. A few hours later, she collapsed, and was unable to speak or move the right side of her body. Both her sister and boyfriend insisted that she get medical attention. Blanette was taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital. There she learned that at age 43, she had suffered a stroke, but was outside the 3-hour tPA window. She and her family were told there was nothing to do but wait.
Her boyfriend Ned, however, started making phone calls.
He reached a friend at the NIH who told him he needed to get Blanette to the NIH Stroke Center as quickly as possible. Early that evening, Blanette arrived at the Hospital Center by helicopter. The Stroke Team immediately whisked her into MRI. They were able to determine that Blanette was a candidate for an NIH study, one that uses a combination of clot busters with a treatment window of 24 hours. There was no debate within the family; her parents gave informed consent on their daughter's behalf, and the team administered two study medications that restored blood flow to her brain.
Two days later, Blanette was walking and all sensation and strength in her right side had returned. She was eating and alert, although she still had some trouble speaking. Nine days later, she was home and continuing to work on her residual speech difficulties with outpatient speech therapy.