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Man receives expert care at hospital for clot in left side artery

Chris McBride was only 40 years old when he had a stroke. It happened July 20, 2023, the 10th wedding anniversary for the Sugarloaf man and his wife, Sherry.

A coach for Valley West Little League, McBride remembers how kids, including his son, Patrick, were warming up on the day he was stricken. He was readying sports drinks for the team.

“I actually couldn’t remember how to screw on the tops to the bottles,” said McBride, a Hazleton Area High School teacher. “Then I was walking over to the dugout dropping bottles, and I guess I was stumbling. One of the parents asked if I was all right.”

When McBridge reached the dugout, he was trying to say something to one of the other coaches and found he couldn’t speak. Then he lost all movement on the right side of his body.

“Thankfully somebody had called 911 because the ambulance got there really quickly,” McBride said.

McBride had been in good health and had no history of strokes.

“I was aware of stroke symptoms, but when I was going through it, having a stroke, it never even entered my mind that was what was happening to me,” he said. “Christy Panzarella, who was the person who made the call, knew stroke symptoms and recognized them as soon as she saw my face.”

McBride was off to the emergency room at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Hazleton, within 10 to 15 minutes of it happening.

Meanwhile, clinicians at the hospital were preparing a clot-dissolving medication for McBride’s arrival. When a CT (computed tomography) scan identified a large clot in a left side artery to the brain, the medication was administered.

Clinicians stayed in touch with the Comprehensive Stroke Center at LVH-Cedar Crest, Salisbury Township, via telehealth technology.

If patients don’t improve with the medication, doctors prepare for a mechanical thrombectomy (extraction) with a catheter.

McBride needed a thrombectomy.

The thrombectomy, a minimally invasive procedure, involved running the catheter up through a blood vessel in McBride’s groin to extract the clot. The procedure usually takes 20 minutes to an hour.

“From the moment I was given the (medication) until the clot was removed, the time was under three hours,” McBride said. “Everything went so well. Thankfully, I didn’t need much physical therapy, but that wasn’t the end of the story.”

McBride went through a battery of tests as clinicians attempted to discover the cause of his stroke. An echocardiogram uncovered a PFO (patent foramen ovale), or a hole in his heart.

“PFOs are very common, up to 25% of people have them,” explained Dr. Chirdeep Patel, an interventional cardiologist with Lehigh Valley Heart and Vascular Institute. “Most people never have an issue with them, but under the right circumstances, a stroke can result from a PFO.”

No other abnormality surfaced in McBride’s tests. Five days after his stroke procedure, McBride underwent an outpatient procedure to insert a plug over the PFO. Eventually, scar tissue covers the plug to eliminate the PFO entirely.

“After everything that happened, I only missed a week of teaching,” McBride said. “I can’t begin to express my thanks to everyone at LVHN, to everyone who helped me at the baseball field. I’ve been one lucky guy.”

He said he is feeling great.

“After the initial shock wore off, I had my procedure done, and sometime, I started to feel like my old self again,” McBride said. “I did go to some therapy, both cognitive and physical, but that was mostly precautionary. I have relatively no cognitive or physical deficiencies.”

He noted that he feels very blessed.

“I am so grateful to so many people,” he said.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Chris McBride, who suffered a stoke July 20, 2023, is pictured with this children.