RUSSELL COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Doctors say one southern Kentucky woman should not have survived a brain clot. They call her a miracle. Somehow, everything fell into place so she could be home to spend Christmas with her husband and two young boys.
She had no symptoms, no warnings anything was wrong, but one morning two- months ago, Courtney Wilson stepped out of the shower, and couldn't find her balance.
"I couldn't walk, all I wanted to do was lay down and close my eyes, and just thinking it was going to go away. But it just kept getting worse, and worse, and worse," says Courtney Wilson.
That morning 30-year old Wilson, mother of two young boys, managed to drive them to daycare and school. The school staff knew something was wrong, and took her to the local hospital. She didn't know it, but every decision made by doctors the next several hours was crucial to whether she lived or died. At the time, she could hardly see.
"All I could do was picture the boys in my head. That was the only thing I could see. Makin' sure I got there. That I stayed alive. And that I was there for them. I didn't know anything medical was going on. I just wanted my boys," Wilson continues.
Doctors at Russell County Hospital consulted with stroke experts in Lexington at UK HealthCare. Dr. Jessica Lee, director of the stroke center, advised them to give Courtney a clot busting drug, and rush her to Lexington. There, Dr. Lee found the clot had lodged itself in the worst possible place, the so-called Artery of Life in the brain.
"And this blood vessel, the Basilar Artery, basically supplies a part of the brain that called the brain stem, and thru the brain stem, really runs all of the symptoms that are important for the function of life., so heart beat, breathing, motor control, swallowing, eye movements, everything," says neurologist Dr. Jessica Lee.
On the left, the clot stopping blood flow to the rest of the brain, on the right, what it should look like. Dr. Lee quickly moved Courtney into the hands of Dr. Nasser AlhaJeri, an Interventional Neuroradiologist, one of only 300 in the country.
"You know he told me, this is very, very risky. He didn't tell me to the point of 80% died from it. He didn't tell me at that time 19% is on a ventilator, a vegetable, or nothing like that because I guess he didn't want to get me worked up," says Paul Wilson, Courtney's husband.
"If we don't do anything, she will end up either a vegetable state or she may die, so we have to do something quick, as much as we can," Dr. Nasser AlhaJeri told WKYT.
He inserted a catheter in her groin and went up an artery to the blockage, and in 15-minutes, was able to suck the clot out, reopening the artery.
"Miraculous. Yes, and lucky, very, very lucky," continues Dr. Lee.
Not only had they saved Courtney's life, but she only suffered a tiny stroke, limiting any brain damage.
"God's got a bigger plan for me. And if it's to see my babies grow up, then that's what I'm going to do," Courtney Wilson says.
"There ain't nothing else no better. This is the best Christmas I've ever had," says Courtney Wilson's husband, Paul.
The husband and wife say some day they will explain to their two boys what happened, and how fortunate they are to have a mother who survived an illness most people die from.