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Stroke Patient Stories: Ronald Rimer

Grandfather Suffers Stroke and is Airlifted to Denver to Receive New Inside-the-Artery MAX Catheter Treatment at Swedish Medical Center

Ronald Rimer, 80 years old, lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife of 56 years and has a family of three children, and two grandchildren. Ronald moved to the area from Pacific Palisades 13 years ago when he retired from practicing Optometry, to be closer to his children. He has always lived an extremely active life, exercising on a regular basis at least three times a week, and has a passion for playing golf.

The morning after Easter, Ronald was eating breakfast with his family in his home when he suddenly began to experience intense numbness on the right-side of his body and his wife noticed his face began to droop. She knew something was clearly wrong and initially thought Ronald might be having a seizure. She called 911 immediately.

An ambulance arrived at the house and Ronald was rushed to a local community hospital where the healthcare team conducted a CT imaging test and realized he was suffering from an acute ischemic stroke in his brainstem. He arrived at the hospital within three hours of his symptoms and was therefore eligible to receive the clot-busting medication tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), which is the current standard of care for acute ischemic stroke.

Unfortunately, Ronald suffered a rare allergic reaction to the medication, and on top of that, the clot was too big or difficult to dissolve and the drug therapy did not work completely. His health was not improving and the hospital Ronald had been brought to didn’t have an available stroke treatment alternative. Knowing they had to act fast, the healthcare team airlifted him to Swedish Medical Center, where they knew he could be saved by Swedish Medical Center's new, inside-the-artery treatment. Swedish Medical Center is the only Colorado hospital to provide this life-saving treatment.

At Swedish Medical Center, which cares for more stroke patients, more quickly, than any other hospital in Colorado, Ronald’s doctor, interventional neuroradiologist, Don Frei, MD, used the MAX System by Penumbra, Inc., the newest, most advanced aspiration (or suction) tool available in the U.S. to vacuum out the blood clot in Ronald’s brain. After the surgery, Ronald spent extra time in intensive care because of his previous allergic reaction.

Less than a week later, Ronald was healthy enough to be discharged from the hospital, and he felt like himself again. A few months after the stroke he still experiences a little bit of weakness on his left side, which he has been going to physical therapy to address; but he has not had any problems with speaking or paralysis. Ronald continues to exercise regularly and feels stronger every day.

In fact, Ronald has always lead a pretty healthy lifestyle overall and was very surprised to learn he suffered a stroke. He now realizes that stroke can happen to anyone, at any time, and understands the importance of knowing the signs and symptoms, as well as what hospital in your city has the most advanced stroke treatment available.

Because Ronald was treated quickly and efficiently his stroke did not affect his quality of life. He feels lucky to be able to continue to spend time with his wife and family.