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Man Suffers Stroke On Airplane

August 2, 2013, 6:11 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Man Suffers Stroke On Airplane

Health emergencies are tough to deal with on the ground, let alone at 10,000 feet. So, what do you do if something happens on your next flight? Do you wait until the plane lands, or notify the flight attendants?

Tim and Shenitha Pridgen make a yearly trip to a national church convention. But this year's trip ended much differently. The two boarded a plane from San Francisco to their hometown in Jackson, Mississippi with a layover in Minneapolis. About two hours into the flight Tim started feeling sick.

'I started feeling nauseated and sweating," Tim said.

Instead of Tim's condition getting better, he continued to get worse.

"He had slurred speech, so I couldn't make out what he was saying and he was profusely sweating on his head, neck and chest. His clothes were just wet," Shenitha said.

That's when Shenitha made contact with the flight attendants.

"They asked if there was a nurse or doctor on the plane. Two doctors came around and a nurse came up," Shenitha said.

They notified the captain of the plane, who made an emergency landing in Sioux Falls.

"What we found is that the big blood vessel on the right side was closed off," Interventional Neurologist Dr. Jitendra "Jay" Sharma said.

Sharma says the decision to land the plane in Sioux Falls was a matter of life or death.

"One minute is more than one million neurons, so if you lose one minute, you're losing that many neurons," Sharma said.

Something else that was on Tim's side is that the procedure Sharma did on him has only been available here for around a year.

"We are trying this new therapy where we go in through the blood vessel in the leg and up all the way to the clot and try to take the clot out," Sharma said.

After the procedure, Tim's blood flow was immediately restored. While he still has some weakness on his left side, he is feeling much better.

"Everybody had roles to play and they were played out to the fullest. Had we not had that, I don't know if he'd be here," Shenitha said.

While the couple is very thankful, Tim actually doesn't consider himself lucky.

"It's not luck. It's God's providence," Tim said.

"I have to let you know that I trust God fully for recovery," Shenitha said.

While Tim is doing great, he does have a higher risk of having another stroke. The couple hopes to return home to Mississippi this weekend.

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