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Little Secrets

Posted on September 14, 2017 in Patient Stories

Stroke survivor lives to tell her story

Alline Little and familyIt was one of Alline Little’s little secrets: The medication she took regularly to control her atrial fibrillation and prevent strokes made her feel awful. So- she stopped it. Cold turkey. And told no one.

But when her daughter, Donna, found her lying between the toilet and the wall of bathroom one morning last June, her secret was out – even if no one knew what was wrong with her or why.

“We didn’t know what was happening, but EMS told us they believed she was having a stroke,” Phillip Nussbaumer said of his mother-in-law, who was conscious when the ambulance arrived but unable to talk and moving only her right foot. “They said that Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center – was best for treating strokes. I’d read that on billboards, but I believe it now. We definitely believe it.”

That’s because Little, who had suffered the most deadly form of stroke – a clot in the basilar artery of her brain stem – is a walking, talking testament to the quality of care delivered by the stroke team at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center. Without quick intervention, only one out of 10 people survive such a stroke, and virtually all who do survive will have permanent neurological damage to some degree.

Little, however, came through the ordeal unscathed, thanks to Fort Sanders Regional stroke director and neurohospitalist Arthur Moore, MD, who administered the clot-busting drug tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) minutes after her arrival at FSRMC’s emergency department. It worked so well that no embolectomy, or surgical removal of the clot, was needed.

Dr. Moore administered the tPA while Little was still in the CT scanner. Because she still had symptoms, he alerted his colleague, interventional radiologist Keith Woodward, MD, for a possible embolectomy.

“We took her straight from CT to the interventional radiologist right next door,” said Dr. Moore. “When he, was looking at the back of the brain, the clot had already dissolved completely. A short time later, 10 or 15 minutes while she was still on the table, her symptoms started to resolve and she started talking. That’s a rewarding experience when you’re able to take them back out to the family and say, ‘Hey, she’s all better!’”

Dr. Moore said Alline Little’s stroke should serve as a warning to A-Fib patients: Never stop a medication without first talking with your doctor.

Little couldn’t be more grateful. “I thought Dr. Moore was great – I’m here!” she said. “God just directed me in the right direction. The doctors, nurses, everything they could do for me, they did. They couldn’t have been any better to us. God just put us all in the right place.”

“They took fantastic care of my mom,” Donna Little said. ”Not only were they knowledgeable and skilled in what they do, but they had an attitude of heart – they cared about her. That in itself means a lot when you are going through something like that.”

For more information about stroke services offered at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, visit