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Stroke Doesn’t Discriminate

Expert stroke care saves 16-year-old Molly Ogden's life

Alison Ogden knew the signs of stroke: drooping face, weak arms and slurred speech. She just never expected to see them in her 16-year-old daughter, Molly.

Two and a half years ago in rural Douglas County, Molly Ogden was getting ready for school when the unthinkable happened. She suffered a massive stroke.

Molly was rushed to a nearby hospital where a scan revealed a clot in her brain. The clot was later determined to be caused by a combination of an underlying clotting disorder and a tear in her carotid artery, mostly likely from an injury she received the night before at a powder-puff football game.

Molly’s pediatrician had her transferred to The University of Kansas Health System’s Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center. It's the first and only in the region to be recognized as an Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint Commission.

Specialized stroke team takes action

Once Molly arrived, the stroke team acted quickly. Alison consented to have her daughter treated as an adult, so she could receive tPA, a protein administered intravenously that helps break down blood clots.

The IV tPA treatment was followed by an endovascular procedure using mechanical thrombectomy or clot removal, led by John Madarang, MD, a neurointerventional radiologist and one of fewer than 10 such specialists in Kansas. The stroke center claims four of them. Specialists like Dr. Madarang are on call and ready should stroke patients like Molly need advanced treatment.

“Stroke patients are seen by our stroke experts every step of the way,” said Dr. Madarang. “That’s all we do, and we have the protocols and the expertise in place to move quickly. The faster you can act, the better the outcome.”

Dr. Madarang navigated a Trevo Stent-retriever into the blocked middle cerebral artery supplying blood to Molly’s brain. After positioning the stent retriever in the clot for a few minutes, he retracted the device from the vessel, pulling out the clot and restoring blood flow.

Molly, however, was not out of danger. Her brain continued to swell. She was taken to surgery once again, this time for a decompressive craniectomy.

Team neurosurgeon Paul Arnold, MD, led the complex neurosurgical procedure. He removed the front lobes of her cranium to give her young brain room to expand. Dr. Arnold then transplanted the pieces of skull into Molly’s abdomen, to keep the bone viable until it could be replaced months later.

Molly was then placed in a medicine-induced coma for six days to help regulate the pressure and reduce the swelling of her brain.

Advanced care, amazing recovery

Molly’s road to recovery has been long. After her stroke, she was paralyzed on her right side and suffered from aphasia, a disorder caused by damage to the parts of the brain that control language. The condition made it hard for her to read, write and talk.

The doctors told her it would take a year before she’d be able to walk again. Yet Molly was walking with a brace within six months.

Molly has far exceeded her physician’s expectations, but she still struggles with language. Even so, her attitude remains positive. In fact, Molly was named Survivor of the Year by National Orange Popsicle Week, an organization dedicated to the treatment of young stroke victims.

“If it weren’t for The University of Kansas Health System, we’d be facing a totally different outcome,” said Alison. “I feel blessed to have such a wonderful team caring for Molly.”

We visited with Molly recently for an update on her progress. Learn what she’s doing now.