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Family attributes miraculous stroke recovery to early intervention

High five - Dr. Ron Fowlis and Chris Osborne celebrate at Grand River Hospital, where Fowlis and his team helped Osborne make a full recovery following a stroke in June. RIGHT: Osborne with his mother, Karen Flewelling, who rushed him to hospital following the stroke.  submitted photo

Family attributes miraculous stroke recovery to early intervention


Karen Flewelling is hoping her family’s experience will help others identify the signs of stroke and raise awareness about the importance of receiving medical treatment as soon as possible.

The Guelph resident helped Grand River Hospital in Kitchener mark World Stroke Day last week by relaying a story about her son, Chris Osborne.

In June, while stopped at a grocery store after a weekend trip to the cottage, Flewelling noticed something terribly wrong with her 30-year-old son.

“When I opened the door to the backseat where Chris was sitting, I realized he couldn’t speak or move,” said Flewelling. “When I saw the left side of his face drop, I knew right away that he was having a stroke.”

She rushed Chris, who also began to lose peripheral vision, to the emergency room at nearby Groves Memorial Community Hospital in Fergus, and shortly thereafter he was transported to the district stroke centre at Grand River Hospital, which provides stroke care for residents of the Waterloo-Wellington region.

The hospital has specially-trained staff able to administer tissue plasminogen activator (TPA), a clot-busting drug.

Hospital officials say TPA is a fast-acting drug that, when given to certain stroke patients within four hours of the onset of symptoms, can lead to full recoveries (the sooner the medication is given, the better the chance for an improved outcome).

“Two million brain cells are lost per minute, therefore time is brain,” said Tammy Tebbutt, director of GRH’s secondary stroke prevention program.

“Karen did exactly the right thing getting her son to the hospital right away where he could be assessed and receive treatment as quickly as possible.”

Flewelling said about 30 minutes after TPA was administered by the team led by Dr. Ron Fowlis, Chris’ symptoms began to fade.

“Within two and a half hours [after the stroke] he was back. We’re very lucky,” she told the Advertiser. “It was truly a miracle - but early intervention was the key.”

She added Chris has no adverse health effects from the stroke and he remains an active athlete in Special Olympics events in the area.

“He has moved on with his life and keeps a positive outlook,” said Flewelling. “The wonderful staff at Grand River Hospital and stroke care close to home saved my son’s life.”

Health experts say knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke and calling 911 immediately can save a life. Symptoms include sudden vision changes, weakness or numbness, trouble speaking, dizziness and/or a headache.

For more information visit

Vol 45 Issue 45

November 9, 2012



Wellington North Guide 2018-2019

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