“Not Finished Living…”

Two Radiologists and an Investigational Device Saved Phyllis Danner’s Life
Dr. Donald Frei, a Colorado Neurological Institute (CNI) Member Physician, successfully retrieved Phyllis Danner’s blood clot using an investigational device during Endovascular Therapy.

Englewood, CO  —   Just 36 hours before Thanksgiving Day, Phyllis Danner, 77, experienced a stroke during dinner at her Cherry Hills Village home. Being that her husband, Dr. Paul Danner, is a retired Interventional Radiologist, he instantly went into assessment mode, concluding that his wife needed to be rushed by ambulance to Swedish Medical Center. Here Dr. Donald Frei, a Colorado Neurological Institute (CNI) Member Physician, performed Endovascular Therapy on Phyllis with a 3D Separator, a device currently being investigated by CNI Researchers for effectiveness and safety. With this tool, Dr. Donald Frei was able to successfully extract a blood clot measuring 4.13 millimeters in diameter, relieving Phyllis from experiencing any post-stroke deficits.

Phyllis first received tPA, an enzyme found naturally in the body that coverts plasminogen into another enzyme that is capable of diminishing a clot. This approach, known as IV tPa Therapy, can be utilized at Swedish Medical Center within 4.5 hours from onset of stroke symptoms. While IV tPa Therapy may have reduced the size of Phyllis’ clot, further action was needed. Dr. Donald Frei decided to take a more invasive route, opting to perform Endovascular Therapy, a method which involves surgically extracting a clot. Dr. Donald Frei states, “We also know that people with severe strokes secondary to large artery occlusions usually don’t recover with IV therapy alone and require IV plus endovascular therapy.”

Following the procedure, Phyllis demonstrated a complete turnaround. Upon admission, Phyllis scored an 11 on the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS), a systematic evaluation tool that provides a quantitative measure of stroke-related neurologic deficit. At 10:15 the next morning, she scored a 0, exhibiting no signs of post-stroke symptoms. This phenomenal outcome is a rare occurrence, but thanks to Phyllis’ husband and Dr. Donald Frei, she now has her life back.

Phyllis now wishes to share her story in order to communicate the importance of reaching a hospital shortly after experiencing a stroke. She encourages the community to educate themselves on the medical resources available to them. Without her husband’s knowledge of Swedish Medical Center’s comprehensive stroke center, her life might have changed dramatically, or worse, she might have exited this world.

“Still today, 2 months later, I reflect on the enormity of what has happened to me. And it is with humility and gratitude that I continue to celebrate my life and loved onesHow can I ever thank those responsible for saving my life? It is not possible, but I hope that everyone involved is enriched by the knowledge of their own noble professions,” remarked Phyllis Danner of her stroke experience.

Phyllis’ recovery is so inspiring that she has been selected as a feature patient story for Colorado Neurological Institute’s (CNI) 25th anniversary campaign, 25 for 25. As CNI promotes its 2013 25 for 25 campaign in celebration of 25 years of service to patients, special individuals like Phyllis will hopefully inspire the public to consider those coping with neurological disorders. With each story of optimism and determination, CNI invites the community to give back to patients like Phyllis by giving just $25 on the 25th of each month through givingfirst.org.


For more information about Colorado Neurological Institute, Phyllis Danner, 25 for 25, Stroke, and other neurological conditions, please visit www.thecni.org. You can find out how to participate in 25 for 25 by contacting Steve Washington at 303-806-7415 or swashington@thecni.org.

Colorado Neurological Institute’s mission is to enhance the delivery of personalized, comprehensive and state-of-the-art care to patients with neurological conditions through coordinated patient care, education, research, and outreach activities.

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