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How RAPID technology helped save woman who had stroke driving home from church

RICHMOND, Va. -- Beverly Hill doesn't remember much in the moments leading up to her stroke.

"It was Super Bowl Sunday and I was driving home from church," Hill recalled. "There was a man behind me who saw I was in trouble and he stopped."

Hill said it was the quick action of paramedics getting her to the hospital that probably saved her life.

"The kind of stroke I had, it's about a 20% survival rate," she said.

Physicians at Johnston Willis Hospital quickly found the blood clot in Hill's brain using new RAPID technology, software that quickly analyzes CT and MRI scans to let doctors pinpoint the exact location and severity of a clot.

The technology is revolutionizing the way doctors treat stroke patients because significant and irreversible brain damage can occur if blood clots aren't diagnosed and treated in a timely manner. The software sends images to the doctor's phone so he or she has immediate access.

Dr. George Ted Harris, M.D., a neurologist at Johnston Willis, said patients with clots lose about 3 million brain cells per minute when the brain is deprived of oxygen and blood. Therefore, a fast diagnosis can potentially save a patient from the devastating consequences of a stroke.

In Hill's case, doctors were able to quickly remove the clot through an artery in her groin.

"We've been able to, at times, get clots pulled out in the first 20 or 30 minutes," Dr. Harris said. "But even a goal of getting the clot out in an hour, people have amazing recoveries within that time frame."

Hill said her recovery was slow, but progressing every day. She attends physical therapy and speech therapy two times a week at the hospital.

"God's blessing really came," Hill said.

The educator is back at work part-time and playing the piano for her church.

She said she was grateful for the people and technology that helped her survive such a devastating stroke.

Remember the "FAST" acronym to help recognize the signs of a stroke.

F - Facial drooping
A - Arm weakness
S - Speech difficulty
T - Time to call 9-1-1

Working For Your Health is a partnership with HCA Healthcare. Serving the greater Richmond area, Chippenham, Henrico Doctors’, Johnston-Willis, Parham Doctors’, and Retreat Doctors’ Hospital are part of HCA Virginia. Watch for Working For Your Health reports Tuesdays on CBS 6 News at 7 p.m.

Watch for Working For Your Health reports on CBS 6.

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