At RapidAI, we understand that technology is just one part of any successful patient outcome. From the person who picks up the phone to call 9-1-1, to the first responders, doctors and other healthcare professionals providing care, there are many heroes in each story. Here, we spotlight these incredible individuals who are saving and changing lives in our Rapid Hero Stories.
In January 2023, Deb Kelly had just started training for the Jurassic Coast half marathon along England's Dorset Coast. She was 53 years old, fit, and worked as a physical education teacher for HM Prison Service. A stroke was the last thing Deb and her family thought would happen to her, seemingly occurring out of nowhere, without warning signs or symptoms. As far as Deb knew, she had no health conditions that would have put her at risk.
One Saturday morning, after a week of hydrating and prioritizing sleep as part of her training, Deb woke up like any other day. After getting out of bed, she fell while going to the bathroom – unbeknownst to her sons who were home at the time. Eventually, Deb’s eldest son grew worried. He found her on the floor and quickly realized something was wrong. Recognizing the symptoms, he suspected his mom was having a stroke.
“My left side had gone all weak, I slurred, and my face was drooped as well. He probably thought I’d been drinking – but it was obviously a bit early,” Deb joked. “So he raised the alarm, called my husband who was at work and phoned an ambulance. At the time, I didn’t believe that I had a stroke.”
Although many emergency care providers, including paramedics and ambulance crews, were on strike at the time, an ambulance responded to their call within 30 minutes and transported Deb and her 18-year old son to the emergency department at Royal Stoke University Hospital.
"I was lucky for my son to find me,” she said, “but the ambulance being in the area and available despite the strikes was a postcode lottery.”
After undergoing a CT scan immediately upon her arrival, which was quickly analyzed by Rapid CTP to quantify salvageable brain tissue, it was determined that Deb was likely experiencing a wakeup stroke (WUS) – defined by unknown time of onset and only detected upon awakening – and that she needed a mechanical thrombectomy. Dr. Sanjeev Nayak, an interventional neuroradiologist at Royal Stoke, immediately conducted a groin puncture to full recanalization.
“She had very good throughput because of quick scanning. We used the Rapid software and it showed us very useful information – without Rapid CT Perfusion, she may not have been treated otherwise. But instead, we treated her in very quick time, under three minutes,” Dr. Nayak said.
“How I’m still sitting here and talking is unbelievable,” remarked Deb.“ If [the blood clot] hadn’t been removed, I wouldn’t be here right now. Dr. Nayak is a lifesaver.”
By the time she was back in her hospital bed after the clot removal, Deb’s face had returned to normal and, over the following days, she slowly regained use of the left side of her body. Out of an abundance of caution, Deb’s care team kept her in the hospital for monitoring for a few days, after which she was discharged. “I walked out of the hospital, which is unbelievable knowing now what could have happened if I hadn’t been treated quickly enough and with the equipment they have at Royal Stoke,” she said.
“This is a good example of not just a quick turnaround for a thrombectomy but also how this process has been sped up and how quickly things can happen when you have access to additional information provided by AI software,” added Dr. Nayak.
“People and governments need to know that this AI software is a necessity,” said Deb. Amid the healthcare strikes in the UK, having access to a dedicated care team and technology like Rapid’s that enabled such a swift intervention proved extremely valuable for Deb. “RapidAI saves lives - it needs to be everywhere in the UK.”
Only a few months later, Deb returned to her job with HM Prison Service and began slowly returning to training – one step at a time. “I went swimming the other day. It was a small goal and a good step in the recovery process…but I still want to run a marathon.”
By quickly recognizing the signs of stroke, Deb’s son likely had a major impact on her outcome.
15 million people worldwide suffer a stroke annually and every minute a stroke goes untreated, 1.9 million brain cells die. Despite these staggering numbers, many people don't recognize the signs.
Early recognition of these signs is crucial to ensure stroke patients get the best possible treatment and attain full recovery.