Stroke Patient Defies the Odds

Clinicians, family and faith join forces for inspiring recovery.

Author: Sherry Farney

On August 11, 2020, Bill DuRussel, 73, of Munger, underwent carotid endarterectomy surgery at a mid-Michigan hospital to clear out a carotid artery. Seven hours later, he had a stroke and was rushed by ambulance to the Intensive Care Unit at McLaren Flint.

Since he had just had surgery, Bill wasn’t eligible for tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). Dr. Mahmoud Rayes, an interventional neurologist at McLaren Flint, instead performed a mechanical thrombectomy on Bill, which removed the blood clot blocking one of the arteries leading up to his brain. This is done using devices that are threaded up to the brain through a catheter placed in the groin.

After his surgeries, Bill was in poor condition, but he continued to fight to get better. The doctors discussed that a tracheostomy tube may need to be placed and that the family be prepared for Bill needing to spend some time at a nursing home to receive specialized care, but Bill’s wife, Carlene and their sons, Bill Jr. and David, decided against this advice.

“My sons and I knew he was a fighter and by the grace of God he would pull through,” said Carlene. “We wanted to try to give him proper care at home with the help of outpatient services through the VA. Five weeks later, after driving back and forth daily to see Bill, we were finally able to take him home! God is and was so very good.”

“Our faith in God brought us through this, and it is a miracle Bill is here today. Dr. Rayes and the staff at McLaren went above and beyond to help save Bill’s life. The inpatient rehab is awesome. They did a wonderful job.”

Although Bill has a deficit in his nondominant hand and a little problem with his speech, he is thriving in a home that is not handicap accessible and does very well regardless. While they spend some of the winter in Florida, Carlene is currently working with the VA to get Bill some continued rehabilitation so he can get back to doing some of the things that bring him joy.

“We’ve been married for almost 49 years, and my wife has been my biggest cheerleader through all this,” said Bill. “I would love to be able to drive a golf cart and get back on the golf course. Being able to drive a car again would also make me very happy!”

“We had faith that God was in control, and he brought us through,” said Carlene. “We also had so much support from friends and family that was more than anyone could ask for. I just want others to know that everything and anything is possible through faith. Never give up.”

Learn more about McLaren Flint’s Certified Comprehensive Stroke Center, and the McLaren Stroke Network, here.