Stroke patient’s life saved with unrelated doctor visit

Swift-thinking providers recognized stroke signs during kidney treatment

Stroke patient’s life saved with unrelated doctor visit

It was March 2020 when Donavon Czech came into Sanford Health in Bismarck, North Dakota, for a kidney tumor ablation. Little did he know that visit would turn out to save his life. He suffered a massive stroke.

A large blood clot had traveled to his brain and lodged itself in an artery. The blockage cut off blood flow to the left side of his brain and almost the entire right side of his body was unresponsive.

Because of how large the clot was, Andrew Miller, M.D., interventional radiologist, performed a mechanical extraction known as a percutaneous transcatheter to remove the blockage.

“We start in an artery in the groin and use a catheter to go all the way up to the brain,” said Dr. Miller. “The whole process from insertion to the extraction of the clot took about 15 minutes.”

Donavon’s wife of 32 years, Connie Czech, says the procedure and therapies were life changing.

“He just recovered so well. The morning after his surgery he could hold his arm maybe an inch above the bed. That just progressively got better as they worked with him. Every little inch was just a blessing,” said Connie.

One year later, Donavon has been taking physical, speech and occupational therapy with doctors from Bismarck and Fargo and says he is feeling much better.

“The doctors were wonderful. All of them. They got me back going again,” said Donavon.

“The blessing was that he had the stroke in an inpatient stetting. An expression we use is ‘Time is brain,’ so we were able to remove it quickly before it damaged more of the brain,” said Dr. Miller.

Stroke treatment at Sanford

Sanford Medical Center Bismarck provides advanced, lifesaving stroke care. Recognized for their comprehensive team and expert care provided to stroke patients, the DNV-GL has accredited Sanford Medical Center Bismarck as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center.

Additionally, Sanford Medical Center Fargo is one of a select few Joint Commission designated advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center hospitals in the United States, being the only of its kind between Seattle and Minneapolis.

“The smaller rural hospitals are able to reach out to Sanford as a Comprehensive Stroke center, with the possibility of transferring to Sanford Fargo if surgically removing the clot is required. In fact, a lot of patients we see for stroke are actually transfers from other hospitals,” said Dr. Alexander Drofa, a neurosurgeon at Sanford Fargo.

“It’s care close to home. No need to go out of state for treatment.”

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Posted In Bismarck, Brain & Spine, Fargo