Ronald’s life-saving determination
After pulling over on the side of a rural road, Ronald Rentz was afraid he could die or be paralyzed, leaving his family to care for him for the rest of his life.
Rentz, who was on his way to his primary care doctor for routine blood work, managed to pull off the side of County Road 125 after his eyes became blurry. He was sweating heavily.
“It was like somebody dumped a bucket of water on me. It was quick,” Rentz said. “Then my lips started tingling and I couldn’t move my left hand on the steering wheel. I was completely paralyzed on the left side.”
Hardly able to reach his phone and say the word “stroke.”
Rentz, 66, had remembered the signs of a stroke and knew he was in the midst of having one so he reacted quickly unlike about 80 percent of people who don't seek care on time impacting their recovery.
He usually keeps his phone in his left pocket, but luckily on this day it was in his cup holder to his right. He was able to pick it up and dial 911.
But his right side was also being impacted and he could hardly get the phone to his ear or talk.
“I got the word stroke out,” said Rentz, of Glen St. Mary, who is married with two grown children. “I remember saying a prayer in the truck while waiting for the rescue unit – ‘If it’s time for me to go, I’m ready. But please don’t leave me like this for my family, unable to talk and completely paralyzed.”
When paramedics arrived, he was barely able to get out the name of the school where his wife works.
Truck, helicopter, tPA…then, miracle.
The paramedics arrived prompty and recognized Rentz was having a major stroke. They connected to the Baptist stroke team in nearby Jacksonville. In a flash, he was taken to a nearby helicopter pad and in a matter of minutes arrived at Baptist Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center, the leader in the region for stroke care.
After obtaining a CT scan, the team verified Rentz was having a major ischemic stroke (lack of blood flow to the brain due to a blood clot), and immediately administered the clot-buster tPA medication along with advanced vascular imaging in preparation for the next step in treatment.
Neurovascular surgeon Ricardo Hanel, MD, PhD, said both of Rentz’s arms and legs were essentially paralyzed when he arrived. Dr. Hanel used the latest minimally invasive techniques and technologies to navigate through the blood vessels in Rentz’s groin up to his brain to remove the clot and restore blood flow to his brain.
The statistics were against him.
Rentz, a former smoker who has high blood pressure, high cholesterol and is diabetic, was at a high risk for stroke, and the statistics were against him. Stroke is one of the highest causes of long-term, serious disability in the nation.
But Rentz was determined to seek care quickly, and he received exactly the care he needed.
“Dr. Hanel was telling me what a miracle I was that I had enough function to call 911. The Lord put my phone where I could get to it and the rescue unit and helicopter were doing their job so well,” said Rentz, a veteran who served in the U.S. Navy and later retired from a container manufacturing plant.
“I think it’s amazing they could pull a clot out of my head without major surgery. When I woke up, I didn’t feel like anything happened.”
For more information on stroke, go to https://www.baptistjax.com/locations/stroke-and-cerebrovascular-center