A Stroke of Luck
Avid Adelaide Crows supporters for 20 years, loving couple of 49 years Dawn and Robert Cunningham were travelling from their hometown in Port Pirie to Adelaide for the preliminary final between the Adelaide Crows and Geelong when the unthinkable happened – Robert suffered a stroke.
70-year-old Robert had just pulled into their unit at West Lakes and hadn’t even turned the car off when Dawn noticed the side of his face was droopy and Robert could not respond to her. She noticed the signs and knew immediately he was suffering a stroke.
“I knocked on the car window and as I opened the door I could see straight away from his face that Robert was suffering a stroke. Luckily, I had two neighbours who happened to be outside who quickly called an Ambulance and helped me take him out of the car,” Dawn said.
Within an hour and a half Robert was rushed to the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) and in surgery. Tests showed Robert had a blood clot that travelled up to his brain which caused his stroke.
“It happened extremely quickly and we are extremely lucky we were in Adelaide. Doctors informed us if Robert was in Port Pirie he either would have been severely handicapped or wouldn’t have survived,” Dawn said.
It is thanks to medical research undertaken by Head of the RAH Stroke Unit Associate Professor Tim Kleinig and his team who developed a revolutionary clot retrieval procedure that resulted in Robert’s clot being removed, preventing serious damage.
“It’s the fantastic research that saved his life. A few years ago, they wouldn’t have had the option of the procedure that saved Robert’s life,” said Dawn.
“His stroke happened on Friday and by Sunday he was already improving and sitting up. He was recovering extremely well. Robert was out of hospital the following Thursday and doctors were amazed at how quickly his recovery has been.”
“I can’t speak highly enough about the stroke unit at the RAH.”
His remarkable recovery meant Robert could watch the Grand Final with Dawn, two of his sons and two granddaughters in their unit at West Lakes.
Incredibly, thanks to medical research Robert’s recovery is continuing to amaze doctors. Currently, Robert is receiving rehab in Adelaide and Port Pirie including an in-home therapist team helping with speech therapy, a small exercise compared to a lifetime of treatment other stroke patients face.
“He is improving one hundred per cent each day and he is back to his gardening and the things he used to do around the house,” Dawn said.
“It would be lovely to think that everyone who has a stroke would come out like Robert but unfortunately they don’t.”
It is thanks to your support that A/Prof Kleinig’s research has been made possible and has saved Robert’s life and many others who have suffered a stroke.
We are proud to be supporting vital stroke research that will continue to save the lives of Australians and result in more lifesaving outcomes.