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Father, Husband, Writer, Stroke Survivor
A 50-year-old marathon runner, and father of two little boys aged two and five and an 18-year-old daughter; Albert Borris was home alone with sons Sam and Jonah when he collapsed on the floor of his kitchen. Roughly forty-five minutes later the babysitter arrived at the house and found him.
With no warning, Albert Borris had suffered a stroke. With complete occlusion, or blockage, of his left carotid artery, Albert Borris’ wife –an emergency room physician – acknowledges without hesitation that there was every chance her husband would not be sitting next to her now had he not received the treatment he got at the Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center of NJ at Capital Health. “He shouldn’t be here,” she says. But he is.
On shift when her husband collapsed, Betty Thompson wasn’t prepared to be on the other end of the call that came in – We’re at your house and your husband is unresponsive, what do you want us to do? According to Betty she wanted to yell, “run.” She knew that any chance her husband had depended on quick assessment and treatment.
Albert was taken directly to the emergency room where it was determined he needed more specialized care. Rather than have Albert transferred to one of the hospitals in nearby Philadelphia, Betty chose to have him sent to Capital Health’s Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center for more advanced care, which he received from Dr. Erol Veznedaroglu. With no blood flowing to the left side of his brain, Albert was unresponsive and had no movement on his right side.
Betty remembers Dr. Veznedaroglu telling her that Albert’s surgery was one of the more difficult ones. She laughs when she explains that as a doctor you want the challenges -- but as the family you’d rather your loved one be the easy case.
Dr. Veznedaroglu opened up the artery, which had been blocked from Albert’s neck all the way up into his brain. Within hours he had opened his eyes. Time was critical to his ability to help Albert, says Dr. Veznedaroglu.
About a week after his stroke, Albert began walking. When she got to the rehab facility where he was being treated Betty was told he was walking. She recalls thinking they meant he had walked to a chair and instead there he was walking all the way down the hall. “I couldn’t believe it -- I was in shock,” she says.
Now, Albert Borris looks forward to gardening and holding his sons. He has roller bladed since his stroke and is continuing to aggressively work on recovering his speech.
Since his initial surgery, Albert had a stent placed in his neck to keep the artery opened up. Moving forward his management will include taking a blood thinner and monitoring of his carotids.
A writer and a school counselor, he shares his frustrations as he works to regain more of his speech, but acknowledges with a smile how fortunate he is. His wife, with whom he shares a keen sense of humor, hits him lightly, “you shouldn’t be here, doing this well.” But he is.