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Quick Action by Child Brings Help to Mother Suffering a Stroke

Posted: 1/23/2018

Dr. Toledo, Kelsey Cole

Pensacola, Fla. — A 7-year-old is credited with saving her mother’s life after noticing that she wasn’t talking and appeared dazed. Fortunately, the young girl called her father to say that her mom needed urgent help.

Kelsey Cole, 27, of Milton, didn’t even know she had suffered a stroke until she woke up after receiving a life-saving procedure at Sacred Heart Regional Stroke Center -- the only primary stroke center in the region with an endovascular neurosurgeon and stroke neurologist as part of its multidisciplinary team. Sacred Heart is part of Ascension, the nation’s largest non-profit health system.

That day on December 8 started like many others for Cole: a mad scramble to get four kids ready for school. But on this day, she didn’t feel like herself.

“I remember that my right arm felt numb,” said Cole. “Luckily my mother-in-law was nearby and came over right away. When she found me collapsed on the floor, she thought I had a seizure. I never thought that I could be at risk for a stroke.”

Dr. Maria Toledo, an endovascular neurosurgeon at the Stroke Center, said stroke is often considered an older person’s disease, but an estimated 10 percent of stroke survivors are younger than 50. During Cole’s procedure, Toledo utilized a state-of-the-art neurointerventional biplane system to quickly locate the blockage in her brain.

“Time is of the essence for stroke patients because their prognosis depends on how much brain damage has occurred by the time the clot is removed,” Toledo said. “A biplane system allows us to recreate detailed 3D images of the brain, producing images simultaneously from the front and back of a patient’s head. Once we viewed the images, I was able to remove the clot in 19 minutes.”

Cole’s ischemic stroke was caused by a small hole in her heart, called a patent foramen ovale (PFO), which increased her risk for a stroke by up to 25 percent. Because PFOs have no symptoms in adults, a diagnosis usually doesn’t come until after a stroke occurs.

“As a certified regional stroke center, we provide faster, more effective care that can help reduce death and disability from stroke,” Toledo said. “We have assembled all the critical elements we need to make a difference in the quality of care for stroke patients.”

Thanks to the quick action by her daughter and expert care she received at the Stroke Center, Cole is recovering and planning her wedding later this month.

For more information on biplane imaging and stroke, visit

About Sacred Heart Health System

On the Gulf Coast, Ascension operates Sacred Heart Health System based in Pensacola, Fla.  and Providence Hospital based in Mobile, Ala.  Together, these Ascension healthcare facilities have served Gulf Coast communities for more than 160 years and they employ more than 6,600 associates. Across the region, Ascension provided more than $113 million in community benefit and care of persons living in poverty in fiscal year 2016.  Ascension is a faith-based healthcare organization committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable. Ascension is the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system, operating 2,500 sites of care -- including 141 hospitals and more than 30 senior living facilities -- in 24 states and the District of Columbia. For more on Sacred Heart Health System, visit



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