JUNE 1, 2015 – SARNIA, ON – When Allan Murray had his heart attack, he thought that was the worst thing that would happen to him that week. He was wrong.

On November 6, 2014, while at Bluewater Health in Sarnia for a heart test, the 56 year-old suffered an ischemic stroke. Ischemic stroke is caused by a sudden blockage of an artery to the brain that deprives the brain of blood flow and critical nutrients.

“Allan experienced a sudden onset of weakness on the left side of his body and significant difficulty with his speech,” said Bluewater Health’s Registered Clinical Nurse Specialist, Angela Sekeris, a member of the Acute Stroke Team.

“I didn’t even know my heartbeat was so high, let alone that I was having a stroke,” said Murray. “I was all ready to go to work the next day.”

Having just been started on a heart medication, Murray was not a candidate for the clot-busting drug, tPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator). Normally, a patient presenting symptoms of stroke would be considered for tPA treatment.

The doctor treating Murray used Telestroke, a telemedicine application which provides physicians with immediate access to neurologists with expertise in stroke care. A Telestroke physician at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto reviewed Murray’s brain scan and identified a clot blocking a large artery in his brain.  Murray was immediately transported to London Health Sciences Centre to have the clot removed via Endovascular Treatment (ET).

ET is performed by inserting a tube into an artery in the groin, led through the body, and into the brain vessels to the clot. The clot is then removed restoring blood flow to the brain. Recent research has found that ET halves the death rate from major ischemic strokes and increases positive outcomes by 25 per cent.

Allan Murray PictureThe ET was successful. “When he left Bluewater Health for London to have the clot removed, Allan was unable to talk and had very little movement on the left side,” said Sekeris. “For Allan to be back to work as a truck driver, talking and walking, is something that would not have happened without ET. If the clot had remained in the artery; the blood supply to the brain would have continued to be interrupted resulting in increased damage; and the final outcome would have been far different.”

Murray returned to Bluewater Health four days after his procedure and spent 11 days in inpatient Rehabilitation.  Over the next five weeks as an outpatient in the Community Reintegration Program, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and recreational therapy, enabled Murray’s very successful recovery.

Today, five months later, Murray continues to have some minor changes to his speech, but considers himself lucky. “Most people have it considerably harder,” he said. “I was just lucky, I guess. Maybe I have a strong will to live.”


The Ontario Stroke Network (OSN) provides provincial leadership and planning for the continuum of stroke care in Ontario—from health promotion and stroke prevention to acute care, recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration. The OSN has established a Provincial Working Group to provide recommendations on planning for ET implementation. For the latest OSN news, visit http://www.ontariostrokenetwork.ca or follow us on Twitter: @ONStrokeNetwork.


Bluewater Health, with locations in Sarnia and Petrolia, is a 326-bed community hospital that cares for the residents of Sarnia-Lambton. With close to 2,500 staff, Professional Staff and volunteers, Bluewater Health provides an array of specialized acute, complex continuing care, allied health and ambulatory care services. State-of-the-art facilities, which opened in 2010, contribute to Bluewater Health’s Mission: We create exemplary healthcare experiences for patients and families every time. For more information about Bluewater Health, visit  www.bluewaterhealth.ca or follow us on Facebook and YouTube.


Patrick Moore
Communications Manager, Ontario Stroke Network
(c) 416-455-7394