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Stroke victim enjoys 82nd birthday

By Paul Huggins
phuggins@decaturdaily.com · 340-2395

She’s still 18 years away from reaching the century mark, but today is a milestone for Margaret Jones.

Reaching her 82nd birthday seemed unlikely for the Jackson Street Southeast resident just four months ago.

She had a massive stroke while driving home from her son’s house Feb. 26. She passed out and smashed into two trucks a half block from home. An ambulance took her to Decatur General Hospital where doctors diagnosed the stroke.

She was home after a few days in the hospital. Today, she’s as active as ever tending her garden, writing poetry and sewing dresses for her granddaughter’s Barbie dolls.

“God’s just really blessed me,” Jones said.

Her friend, Ann Grigsby, said Jones’ quick recovery looks like a miracle.

She was at Jones’ side when the emergency room doctor gave her a shot of tissue plasminogen activator.

The medicine can dissolve blood clots, which cause most heart attacks and strokes.

“She was just lifeless,” Grigsby said of how Jones looked in the emergency room. “She had no movement and just a vacant stare on her face.”

Within 30 minutes of getting the drug, Jones was squeezing her friend’s hand and responding to voice commands, Grigsby said.

The drug has been around for 11 years but found more prevalent use in the past three to five years, said Dr. Larry Sullivan, emergency room director at Decatur General, the only certified Primary Stroke Center in Alabama.

The drug is highly effective, but only in patients who meet certain requirements.

Patients won’t receive it if they suffered a minor stroke or if they are taking blood thinners, he said.

The patients also must undergo a CT scan to make sure they’ve had a thrombolytic stroke (caused by a clot) rather than a hemorrhagic stroke (caused by excessive internal bleeding.

The drug would only worsen an hemorrhagic stroke, Sullivan said.

A doctor can only give the drug if the patient arrives within three hours of the stroke and has received the CT scan, he added.

Grigsby said Jones would likely have died had she made it home that night. The wreck got her to the hospital, whereas at home she would have passed out and no one would have noticed till the next day.

“There’s nothing she can’t do now. Her family even got her a housekeeper after she got home to help for a while, but she only used her once,” Grigsby said. “She is an amazing woman.”

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