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Kelowna General Hospital embraces innovations in stroke care

Click to play video: 'Former Global Okanagan news anchor shares life altering experience to help others' Former Global Okanagan news anchor shares life altering experience to help others
Former Global Okanagan news anchor shares life altering experience to help others – Mar 4, 2022

It’s been a while since Rick Webber was sitting behind the Global News desk, delivering news into viewers’ homes, and many wonder what he’s been up to in the last few years.

Since retiring there has been a huge life-altering event in his life — he suffered a stroke in June of last year.

“No one was more surprised than I was,” said Webber, former Global News anchor.

“Luckily, I was with some friends when it happened, because I didn’t even know I had a stroke. We had ordered some pizza and I paid for the pizza and I was about to cut it up and suddenly all the signs of a stroke suddenly appeared.

“I don’t remember this, but my friends told me after the fact, it’s like the ad you see on TV.”

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Webber is now a participant in a research study testing the effectiveness of a clot-busting drug called NA-1.

Right now it’s a double-blind randomized research study. Fifty per cent of patients are given a placebo and the other 50 per cent are given the drug, which may prevent long-term side effects.

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“I had never had any warning signs that I was to have a stroke or any problems with my heart at all,” said Webber.

“It came as a complete surprise. The fact that I’m able to sit here and talk to you about it with apparently very little repercussions, it’s surrealistic to think that if I hadn’t had the right treatment at the time I wouldn’t be the person I am right now.

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The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada states 62,000 strokes occur in Canada each year, meaning one stroke happens every nine minutes.

When you are having a stroke, time is of the essence.

“If you’re having a hard time speaking, if you’re having a hard time making sense of yourself, if you’re slurring your speech, then you need to call 9-1-1 right away,” said Jeff Sommers, the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s regional director of health policy and systems.

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To meet the growing need, Interior Health has made significant changes to how strokes are treated in the region over the last six years. Kelowna General Hospital is now the hub for stroke care.

Strokes are the number one cause of long-term disability in adults, meaning often people don’t die but, end up living with long-term impairment.

That’s why the drug study being done at KGH could be so important to stroke patients.

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