MANHASSET, NY – Sonia Survilla credits quick-thinking by her teen-age daughter, Ashley, along with impressive new technology available at the North Shore-LIJ Health System known as “telestroke consultations” for saving her life.
The grateful mother, from Levittown, NY, joined her daughter and the vascular neurologist who saved her to shed light on the scientific achievement that gave her “the chance to continue living a wonderful life.”
“I remember going out to the deck at 5:30 am to smoke a cigarette. The last thing I remember is the deck spinning around and my body going numb,” Ms. Survilla said about the April 28 incident.
Realizing that she probably was, in fact, suffering a stroke, she remained alone on the deck, hoping her daughter would find her.
“I woke up at 6:15, and my first thought was ‘how nice that mom finally let me sleep a little bit on a school day,’ ”said Ashley Survilla.
After looking around the house, she discovered her mom in distress on the deck.
“She was not responding and there was foam around her mouth. I knew I had to call 911,” she said.
The mother was sent to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bethpage, where it was determined that she had, in fact, suffered an acute ischemic stroke (CVA). Doctors there reached out to the stroke team at LIJ, where a telestroke consult was ordered.
“Our health system is the largest provider of telestroke communications in this region. This is certainly a beautiful story of a daughter’s love for her mother and the importance of having state-of-the-art technology at our disposal.”
Dr. Katz explained that the Stroke Unit’s telestroke communication allows a doctor to examine a patient from any location outside the hospital.
“Traditionally, a patient believed to be suffering from a stroke is brought into the Emergency Department,” Dr. Katz said. “Before this technology, we’d have to call a stroke specialist and bring that physician in to the hospital to examine the patient. With Telestroke, also known as ‘Stroke Telemedicine,’ neurologists remotely evaluate their patients. Doctors communicate with emergency medicine personnel and the stroke patient at remote sites using digital video cameras, smart phones or I-Pads to assist them in diagnosing stroke and providing lifesaving treatment recommendations.”
That’s exactly what happened with Ms. Survilla. According to Rohan Arora, MD, a vascular neurologist at the health system, he was doing rounds at Long Island Jewish Medical Center when he was alerted to her situation that morning.
“During the video chat, it became clear that Sonia had suffered a stroke, and we still were within the designated time period to offer her the clot-busing drug known as tPA,” he said. “Time is always of the essence in these cases, since nearly two million neurons are lost every minute following a stroke.
“It also became clear that the medication would not suffice and that Sonia needed to be transferred to North Shore University Hospital so she could have a procedure done to remove the large clot,” he said.
At 10:45 that same morning, the large clot that was blocking a major artery in the patient’s brain was removed by Avi Setton, MD, a neurosurgeon and Co-Director of the health system’s Brain Aneurysm Center.
After sharing a warm greeting, Dr. Arora said it’s “just amazing” to see his patient thrive after their initial telestroke meeting.
“Thanks to Ashley’s quick thinking and the use of this advanced technology, we are able to be here together today. This is a wonderful story.”
Referring to her daughter as “her angel,” the proud mother said that life post-stroke is very different.
“I always worked out, ate right,” she said. “I tried to do the right thing. But, I had been a smoker since the age of 12.”
In honor of Dr. Arora and the other members of the Stroke Team, she has already quit smoking and is even more mindful of living a healthy lifestyle and taking necessary measures to lengthen her life.”
“I’m glad I was able to save my mom’s life,” Ashley Survilla said. “I didn’t want to think about not having my mom…that’s it.”
About North Shore-LIJ
The nation's 14th-largest healthcare system, North Shore-LIJ delivers world-class clinical care throughout the New York metropolitan area, pioneering research at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and a visionary approach to medical education highlighted by the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. North Shore-LIJ cares for people at every stage of life at 16 hospitals and nearly 400 outpatient physician practices throughout the region. North Shore-LIJ’s owned hospitals and long-term care facilities house more than 6,000 beds, employ more than 10,000 nurses and have affiliations with more than 9,400 physicians. With a workforce of more than 46,000, North Shore-LIJ is the largest employer on Long Island and the third-largest private employer in New York City. For more information, go to www.northshorelij.com.