Stroke survivor meets doctor who saved her life with new technology

Paula Harmon reunited with Dr. Jason Mackey, who helped save her life during a stroke.
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - A woman from Irvington had a special surprise this week. Paula Harmon had a stroke back in August and on Wednesday, she got to meet one of the people who helped save her life.

The last time Paula saw Dr. Jason Mackey, she was having a stroke. Her daughter called 911.

"Next thing I remember is I'm on my bed and there's a doctor," said Paula. "I knew it was a doctor because he had on a white coat standing at the foot of my bed. And I said, 'is there a doctor in my bedroom?' And he said, 'yep!'"

Not only was there a doctor, but IU Health's Mobile Stroke Unit also came right to her door. That new technology gave her a second chance at life.

"They have a CT scanner in the unit," said Paula. "So they can do a CT scan. They did it on the street in front of my house while I was still at home."

"We started the medicine in the truck right outside of her house and then started transporting to Methodist," said Jason.

"I’ve seen shows where they utilize doctors riding in ambulances in other countries because it helps people, gives people a better chance to survive," said Paula's daughter, Kalie Harmon.

Time is critical when it comes to taking care of stroke patients, at the emergency room or on the road in the mobile unit. That's because doctors say every minute, a stroke patient can lose two million neurons.

"To look at me, you can't tell I've had a stroke," said Paula. "And to see other patients that have had strokes and didn't get the treatment in the time I got it, and the difference between what happened to them and me, I am blessed."

"It was awesome to see them save her life," said Kalie.

Paula was one of the first patients to get help from the Mobile Stroke Unit, which now serves parts of Marion County.

"Getting people back to their families, back to their communities, back to their work, the life they have, that's what we're trying to do here," said Jason.

"I have a great faith in God and I believe everything happened as it should that day because I have a purpose to be here and God has better things in store for me," said Paula. "But he also sent angels to help. I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to make sure I live life to the fullest and enjoy my family and life and make them proud that they gave me a second chance."

Doctors want to make sure people are aware of the signs of stroke. They encourage people to think "FAST":

  • F is for face drooping: you can check if the person's face is drooping or numb.
  • A is for arm weakness: you can ask the person to raise both arms.
  • S is for speech difficulty: you can see if it's hard to understand them talking or if their speech is slurred.
  • T is for time: if someone shows those symptoms, it's time to call 911.

For more information about stroke and its warning signs, click here.

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