In early October, Allen Hampton and his wife Sharyn had just finished having lunch in Park City and were preparing to return to their home in Ogden when he started to feel strange. "I thought I'd just shut my eyes for a minute because I was feeling tired. I was just going to relax and then drive home," Hampton said. "I tried to say, 'oh, I'm okay,' but then I realized I couldn't talk."
Hampton didn't know it at the time, but he was having a type of stroke referred to as a large vessel occlusion. A clot was blocking a vessel in his brain interfering with the flow of blood. Every passing minute was leading to irreversible brain damage – and possibly death. Luckily, the paramedics responding to the scene knew exactly what was going on – and where they needed to take him. The paramedic explained to the Hamptons, "We're going to the University of Utah. That's the best trauma center that there is.'"
When Hampton arrived at the emergency room at University Hospital, the crew sprang into action. Because the paramedics acted quickly, Hampton was in the window for treatment with intravenoustissue plasminogen activator (tPA), the drug that works to dissolve blood clots causing a stroke. Vascular Neurologist, Jana Wold, MD, evaluated Hampton upon his arrival. She promptly prescribed tPA and notified the neurointerventional team that Hampton may need a procedure to eliminate the clot completely. "The clot busting medicine started to work on Allen, and we were able to see that the clot had broken up," said Ramesh Grandhi, MD, MS, Neurosurgeon. "But while the large clot had dissolved, we saw that there still was a smaller clot in a branch vessel that could cause trouble."
Grandhi knew that Hampton's best chance at a full recovery involved removing the small clot. So, he decided to go in and get it. He decided to perform a thrombectomy, or surgical removal of the clot. Using imaging technology, he inserted a stent remover in a vein in Hampton's leg and threaded it up into his brain to remove the clot.
Hampton remembers being on the operating table, trying to move his arms or legs to see if he was seeing any improvement. "I felt quite a sharp pain in my right temple and said 'Oh, that hurts.' Dr. Grandhi replied 'I'm sorry, I'll try to hurry. It won't be long.' That is when it dawned on Hampton – he was able to speak again.
Once the small clot was removed, Hampton quickly began returning to normal. Before he was even moved from the operating room, a formal exam was performed to evaluate whether impacts of the stroke still remained. "We found he had normal speech, and normal strength of both sides of his body," said Grandhi. "He was pretty much normal by the time he went into recovery."
Even though Hampton was feeling better he still needed time to recover – much to his chagrin. Immediately after the surgery he was asking Sharyn how soon before he could go home and get back to work at their dry-cleaning business. It took a wakeup call from Dr. Grandhi to get him to slow down. "He said 'It was almost game over for you, do you understand?'" said Hampton. "I had no idea."
Today, less than two months after this life-threatening stroke, Allen Hampton is still recovering, but doing well. He is walking, driving and even attended the wedding of his daughter. "The care I received was amazing," Hampton said. "I am very thankful for everything they did for me and that I have my life back."