Methuen resident Gaspar “Bud” Interrante loves to fish, play golf and spend time with his four grandchildren. Although Interrante, 62, leads an active life, he has experienced some challenges. Interrante lives with Crohn’s and Parkinson’s disease, and in December 2017, he hit another bump in the road.

While in the MGH Emergency Department (ED) for dehydration and diarrhea, Interrante began showing signs of having a stroke, including slurred speech, numbness on his left side and droopiness on the left side of his face.

Interrante recalled hearing his wife yell, “My husband’s having a stroke!”, but that was it.

“I don’t remember much after that, but I do know it took about two heartbeats for a full team to show up,” Interrante said during his emotional testimony at the sixth Annual Stroke Breakfast Gala, May 25. “I was taken to the OR and woke up in the ICU. I remember seeing my beautiful wife and family. Even though I lost most of the function in my left side, I knew I would beat this new inconvenience and test in our lives.”

When it comes to stroke care, “time is brain.” Every moment is crucial in treating stroke patients because the more swiftly they are diagnosed and a specialist administers tPA, a blood clot-busting drug, the less likely they are to have long-term disabilities and further complications.

“With every passing minute, 1.9 million brain cells are estimated to die,” says Natalia Rost, MD, director of the MGH Stroke Service and associate chief of the Stroke Division. “Giving IV tPA so swiftly has certainly contributed to preserving Bud’s brain and ensuring a good outcome.” This also serves as a bridge therapy until the clot is definitively removed.

During Interrante’s story at the breakfast gala, which honored him, his family and the entire MGH care team, he explained how his care enabled him to go home and see his new granddaughter, who was born shortly after he experienced his stroke.

“After two days in the ICU and three more on the seventh floor, I progressed enough to go home and see a new year with my family,” Interrante said. “Due to this amazing staff – nurses’ aides, therapists and doctors – I was able to see my grandchildren, including a new 9-pound granddaughter born Jan. 3.”

But the coast wasn’t clear yet for Interrante. On Jan. 29, he received a call from the Cardiology Unit at the MGH explaining he needed to rush to the ED to receive a pacemaker. Specialists detected an issue through a heart monitor he had been wearing for 30 days.

Interrante plans on getting back on the golf course this summer and spending ample time with his grandchildren.

“From the bottom of my pacemaker-assisted heart, I’d like to thank you all,” Interrante said. “Not just for saving my life, but for giving me my life back. I am as good, if not better, than before my stroke.” 

Read more articles from the 06/01/18 Hotline issue.