Stroke victim recalls touching rescue as St. Francis is honored for treatment program

Stroke victim recalls touching rescue as St. Francis is honored for treatment program

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Alone and collapsed on her drive way, an elderly Columbus woman tells News Leader 9 how a good Samaritan rescued her when she had a stroke.That woman became the first patient at St. Francis to receive a new life saving drug called TPA.

The use of the newly FDA approved drug is just one of the few things that is making St. Francis one of the top stroke treatment locations in the country, according to the American Heart and Stroke Associations.

"I fell when I went to get my newspaper, and I fell on concrete, I had no warning, I just realized I was going to fall and I couldn't catch my balance and I thought, 'what's going on?'" said Fran Pharis who doctors say is lucky.

Lucky, not only to be alive after suffering a stroke in the front yard of her Columbus home, but to be walking, talking, and enjoying family without any visible signs of her medical emergency. Pharis joined about 700,000 others who suffer a stroke each year in the U.S.

"We live in the buckle of the stoke belt, the south. The buckle being between Mississippi and South Carolina has the highest incidents of stroke anywhere in the country and the highest incidents of mortality from stoke," said Dr. Nojan Valadi, St. Francis Stroke Program Medical Director.

This week, St. Francis was recognized as being one of the leading stroke treatment centers in the country, as strokes continue to be a leading cause of death locally and nationally. This honor is called the Get with the Guidelines Gold Plus Achievement Award. It goes to hospitals that treat strokes with the quality and urgency they need.

"The faster that we treat strokes, the better these patients do, is of utmost importance. Every minute that goes by, at least two million brain cells are lost," said Dr. Valadi.

First responders, emergency room doctors and nurses, as well as the St. Francis Neurology Department are celebrating Pharis' recovery, although another hero was also to thank.

"There was a passerby in the car that stopped. She called 911. She went in the house and got my purse and my keys for me and I did not get her name which I regret," said Pharis.

To the woman who saved Pharis last year on February 5th, she wants to thank you. Pharis is also a long time volunteer at St. Francis and thanks all her medical staff.

Doctors say face drooping, arm weakness, and speech difficulty are some of the top signs of a stroke. If you or your loved one has these signs, call 911 right away and don't try to drive yourself to the hospital.

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