Erin's story

Erin tells her stroke survival story about how the Medtronic Innovation Solitaire™ helped in her recovery. Now she is free to continue her daily yoga practice and most importantly, be there for her kids.

Medtronic Innovation Helps Yoga Mom Survive a Stroke

Erin is an athletic kindergarten teacher living in the Greater Toronto Area with her two young children. After recovering from heart surgery following a pulmonary embolism, her anxiety levels had reached an all-time high. She was suffering from Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs or “small strokes”), which made her fear the worst. After several months of suffering from anxiety, her friends and family suggested she go see a psychologist.

Erin made her way to the psychologist’s office downtown, calmly took a seat, introduced herself, and mentioned she had anxiety because of her health issues. She reached over to grab a sip of water, and as she clasped her hand around the glass she suddenly couldn’t feel her hand. She was no longer able to move her left side. She opened her lips to speak but she was silent. Erin felt heavy and desperate to lie down. “Would the doctor find me strange if I lay on the floor?” She wondered.

 “Erin, Erin, Erin!” The psychologist’s voice escalated from a distance. Erin couldn’t answer her; she couldn’t say anything. A stretcher came into the room, then a paramedic hooked her up to an IV and she winced. The paramedic looked into her eyes, “It’s a good thing you can feel that Erin, because you’re having a stroke.”

Every 9 minutes a Canadian suffers a stroke, 80% of which are ischemic strokes caused by a blood clot stopping an artery’s blood flow to the brain.[i] Every minute after a stroke counts, with almost 2 million neurons dying every minute after a stroke, making it a leading cause of death and disability among adults.ⁱ The longer it takes to be treated or break down the blockage, the higher the chances are that a patient may not return to a fully functional state or come out alive.

The traditional protocol for ischemic stroke patients is to administer tPA — thrombolytic drugs delivered through an IV to try to break up blood clots.  Many patients, like Erin, might be contraindicated for tPA. They could be on blood thinners or other medications that might make them ineligible. The tPA is only indicated for use within 4.5 hours from the onset of the stroke.

 Because Erin was on blood thinners, she was not a candidate for tPA. Her interventional neuroradiologist recommended she have an endovascular thrombectomy, or stent retriever procedure, using Medtronic’s Solitaire. In clinical trials the procedure was proven to increase the likelihood of positive outcomes for stroke patients by more than 20%.[ii] Most trials for this device ended early because of the strength of their results and the clear benefits stent retrievers had for patients.

The minimally invasive procedure involved accessing Erin’s artery through her groin. A little plastic tube was advanced all the way up to her brain. Once an angiogram identified where the blockage was, the stent retriever was unsheathed, it entangled itself in the clot, and the clot was extracted.

Erin went into the emergency room basically paralyzed on her left side. She had received the procedure within several hours of having her stroke and the next day she was able to move her left arm and leg. Now Erin is able to return to skiing, doing yoga, and, most importantly, raising her kids.



[1] Discharge Abstract Database (DAD ) data includes all stroke patients admitted to any hospital in Canada (except Quebec) from April 2003 to March 2014, with a most responsible diagnosis of ischemic stroke, transient ischemic attack, intracranial hemorrhage or subarachnoid hemorrhage. Total available cases = 425,799.


[1] Campbell BCV, Mitchell PJ, Kleinig TJ, et al. Endovascular therapy for ischemic stroke with perfusion-imaging selection. N Engl J Med 2015;372:1009-18. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1414792

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