New stroke treatment gets dramatic results

A ground-breaking treatment is changing the lives of stroke patients in New Zealand.

Nearly 100 patients have undergone the procedure, with some dramatic results.

Father-of-five Kaumolangi Mausia, 29, had a major stroke out of the blue on Thursday.

He lost control of his left side and was unable to speak.

"I can't even control my whole body, I can't even stand up and walk, all I can do is just crawl."

But due to the quick thinking of his younger brother, who called an ambulance, within two hours of having the stroke he underwent a special new procedure which saved him from a lifetime of disability.

"I just feel grateful, I'm back to normal," says Mr Mausia.

Just one day later he can already walk and talk, and he'll be back at work in a month.

Ischemic strokes occur as a result of a blood clot stopping blood supply to the brain.  Within minutes the brain starts to die.  But world class technology is making a major difference to patients.

The endovascular clot retrieval device is fed up through the femoral artery into the brain, where it cleverly restores blood flow and extracts the clot.

Almost 100 Kiwi stroke patients have now undergone this innovative procedure, with two in five seeing dramatic results.

Auckland City Hospital neurologist, Prof Alan Barber, says it's the biggest breakthrough in 20 years.

"For those 100 we've treated, 40 are better than they would have been, so that means going from midly disabled to normal. But it also means going from hospital level care, dependent on someone for everything you need, feeding and showering and dressing, to being independent."

Fast diagnosis is key - patients must get to hospital and start treatment within six hours.

Strokes affect around 8000 people each year in New Zealand.

Prof. Barber says this is a treatment for the most serious.

"These are the strokes that leave people severely disabled, it's not a treatment for minor strokes.  We're currently treating a patient a week in Auckland, and I think by the end of this year we'll be up to two patients a week."

The procedure is now being carried out in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and as specialists refine the technique they hope to save even more patients.