A DRUG which can stop stroke victims being permanently paralysed after an attack is being given to patients by brain specialists at St George’s Hospital.

Doctors at the Trust are giving a thrombolytic drug called Alteplase to patients who have suffered strokes to break up blood clots before they destroy the parts of the brain that control movement and speech.

St George’s, which treats around 400 stroke patients every year, is one of only a handful of hospitals in the country to offer the treatment.

Research shows a patient’s recovery is improved by up to 30 per cent when Alteplase is given within three hours of a stroke.

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is blocked by a blood clot or a rupture of a blood vessel. A third of major strokes are fatal. A further third of cases leave patients with some form of disability.

The drug has already been given to one patient admitted to St George’s Hospital before the New Year. The hospital now hopes that many more patients will benefit from the new treatment.

Michael Fogarty from Streatham was admitted to St George’s last week having suffered a stroke in the left side of his brain, the part that controls movement in the right side of the body.

Mr Fogarty, aged 78, first discovered he was ill at eight o’clock on the morning of Wednesday 29 December.

“All of sudden my arm went dead,” explains Michael.

“My arm was like jelly and I had no idea what was wrong with me.

“I then discovered my leg wouldn’t move.”

Michael was given the clot-busting drug within an hour and a half of being rushed to hospital. His medical team noticed an immediate improvement in his condition, as ward sister Dee Slade describes:

“It was amazing to see the speed with which Michael’s strength returned while he was on the medication,” says Dee.

“After an hour, he was able to touch his nose with his hand, which was a considerable improvement in his condition compared to when he first he came in.”

Michael has made a full recovery from his stroke and is expected to leave hospital within the next few days. He has regained the use of his hand and leg on the right side of his body and can now write his name.

Michael’s doctor, consultant neurologist Dr Anthony Pereira, considers what might have happened had he not received the drug:

“Without the medication, we believe Michael would have been left very, very weak on his right hand side,” says Dr Pereira.

“Added to which he may have been left without the use of his hand or his fingers.

“Considering Michael is right-handed, this would have forced him to make a number of changes to his life.”

“But with the help of the drug and the close co-operation of the nursing, neurology, A&E and radiology teams, Michael has made a strong recovery. He has regained the strength he lost in his right hand side and now has good movement in his fingers.

“We are delighted with his progress,” he adds.