Neurointerventional surgeon saves 66 year old's life

Following a blood clot in his brain, Bernie is happy to be alive and well

Neurointerventional surgeon, Daniel Gibson, MD, was checking out at his local Sendik’s when he received a RAPID imaging notification on his phone — alerting him that a male experiencing an ischemic stroke that had left him paralyzed had arrived to be treated at the hospital.

The patient was 66 year old Bernard (Bernie). Bernie was at home, transferring a dish to his sink, when it fell from his hand. As he attempted to pick up the pieces, they kept falling from his hands. Hearing the noise, Bernie’s wife, Beth, came inside to see what was going on. She had him take a seat, and that’s when Bernie began to notice that his leg wasn’t moving and his vision became blurry. During this time, Beth stepped out for a minute and when she returned, Bernie was on the floor and could not speak.

Compassionate, personalized care in the time of an emergency

Bernie remembers his ride to Ascension Columbia St. Mary's Hospital Milwaukee and the number of people working diligently to save his life. “I wouldn’t be talking to you right now if I hadn’t come here. I was the luckiest man in the world that day,” Bernie said. Bernie was thankful to the North Shore Emergency Medical Team (EMT) and those working within the emergency department.

Upon arrival at the hospital, Bernie had imaging done with a neurointerventional biplane, one of the most advanced diagnostic and treatment systems for patients with neurovascular diseases. Ascension Columbia St. Mary's Milwaukee is only the fourth location to have a biplane installed in the United States. This minimally invasive test uses x-rays and an iodine contrast material to create a roadmap of the blood vessels in the brain. Once this test was completed, Dr. Gibson was able to perform a thrombectomy, removing the blood clot from the brain.

Beth recalls the difficult time she had while her husband was in the intensive care unit (ICU) and how small acts of kindness went a long way. “I had to drop things off for Bernie in the ICU and it was an emotional time… I was in the wrong parking lot, carrying a heavy bag through the stairwell trying to bring him his things,” Beth recalled. An Ascension associate approached Beth offering to help carry the bag and guided her to the ICU. Beth remembers coming back to her car and starting to cry, “I just needed someone to be nice.”

Bernie and Beth both shared that during this stressful situation, it was the exceptional care they received that got them through each day. “Dr. Gibson, his nurse (Katie), everyone that helped was exemplary. When they say they will call, they are very communicative. Very caring despite an incredibly stressful situation. [Dr.] Gibson called me immediately after the procedure with information,” Beth recalls.

Bernie, who is a chiropractor, is now back to work and doing what he loves. When asked how he is feeling, he mentioned that he is doing well and is trying to heal the best he can. He is practicing yoga, going for walks and was even able to enjoy golf this past summer. “I appreciate the job Dr. Gibson did... he saved my life!” Bernie said.