When every second counts

December 14, 2017

With spring semester finals approaching at Bemidji State University, Kayla Dierkhising was stressing like a typical college student would: studying more and sleeping less.

She easily blamed school work for a growing headache. But on exam day, a roommate found Kayla on the floor and unconscious; she quickly called 911.

“I was lying in bed and I vaguely remember getting on the ground to pull a blanket on, but I definitely don’t remember much of what was happening,” said Kayla.

Kayla was suffering from a rare massive stroke and needed emergency care. Sanford AirMed transported Kayla to Sanford Medical Center Fargo where she was prepped for emergency surgery in the care of Dr. Alexander Drofa, a Sanford neurosurgeon.

“There is no standard treatment for the stroke Kayla had,” Dr. Drofa said.

The Sanford Stroke Center team swiftly came together to perform an innovative new lifesaving procedure. They threaded a catheter from Kayla’s groin to her brain to remove blood clots one by one. Kayla survived and the procedure was a complete success.

Everyone was blown away by Kayla’s recovery, even the neurology physicians.

“I got stopped in the hallway once because I was up and walking around,” she said. “The doctor said it was crazy for him to see because normally people on that floor aren’t up and walking around by themselves.”

After only six days, Kayla went home and has been cleared of complications ever since. Today, she’s thankful for the immediate care she received at Sanford Fargo.

“I love that team there,” she said. “They answered all my questions and explained what happened and what will happen in the future.”

She’s glad Dr. Drofa had the skill and cutting-edge expertise to save her life.

“I’m definitely grateful he tried something, because he could have said, ‘Oh, no. It’s not going to work.’”

Today, Kayla is back at school as a senior and living life to its fullest. Life could be so different for Kayla, but thanks to support for Sanford Health Fargo, she has a bright future ahead of her.

Generous donors give patients like Kayla hope and healing, and sometimes even a second chance at life.

You can help keep Sanford on the leading edge. A gift today will help provide state-of-the-art equipment, specialized services and advanced training to save the lives of patients like Kayla at a moment’s notice.

Please consider a gift today.