“Lucky” Accident Saves Woman from Stroke

Sometimes, even a terrible fall can be a blessing indisguise. Such was the case with Annabell Sanabria of Kendall. On May 5th,Mrs. Sanabria, 78, was outside on her patio tending to her flowers when shetripped on an uneven patio stone and fell hard. A history of osteoporosislikely contributed to her multiple injuries, which included a fractured leftshoulder, hip and wrist as well as several broken vertebrae.

Annabell Sanabria, shown here with her daughter, was already in the hospital after a devastating fall at home when she suffered a near-fatal stroke

Her husband called 911 and paramedics took Mrs. Sanabria to theemergency room at Baptist Hospital, where she was treated for her injuries. Shewas admitted to the intensive care unit and later moved to the Orthopedics Wing.Overnight, however, still recovering from surgeries to repair her broken bones,Mrs. Sanabria suffered a stroke. Nurses on duty called a “Code Stroke,” anemergency summons for the hospital’s Baptist Emergency Stroke Team (B.E.S.T.),a rapid response team consisting of neurologists, neuroradiologists, neurosurgeonsand others specially trained for just such an emergency.

On the B.E.S.T. team that night was Italo Linfante, M.D., medical director of Interventional Neuroradiology and Endovascular Neurosurgery at Miami Neuroscience Institute and Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute – both a part of Baptist Health South Florida.

(Watch Now: A Kendall woman was in the right place at the right time when she suffered a stroke. Video by Carol Higgins.)

This wasn’t Mrs. Sanabria’s first time as a patient of Dr.Linfante’s, says her daughter, who works as a nurse at Baptist Health and isalso named Annabell. A little over a year ago, in March 2019, the patient had asmall hemorrhage that on cerebral angiography turned out to be unrelated to ananeurysm.

Stroke survivor Annabell Sanabria, left, with her daughter Annabell, who is a nurse at Baptist Health

This time was different, however. Mrs.Sanabria had already recovered from last year’s surgery and was doing well upuntil April of this year, when she started experiencing headaches at night andunusual swelling in some fingers. Normally a vibrant, energetic and positiveperson, she felt like something wasn’t quite right. She mentioned this to herdaughter but was reluctant to go to the hospital because she was afraid ofbeing exposed to the coronavirus in the midst of a pandemic.

“God works in mysterious ways,” says the younger Mrs. Sanabria. “Whenmy mother fell, I asked Him why he let this happen to her and his answer was,‘Soon, you will know.’ And then, when she had a stroke a day later, she justhappened to be in Baptist Hospital and Dr. Linfante just happened to be oncall. If she hadn’t been in the hospital already, or if Dr. Linfante hadn’tbeen available, I’m not sure what would have happened.”

Italo Linfante, M.D., medical director of Interventional Neuroradiology and Endovascular Neurosurgery at Miami Neuroscience Institute and Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute

According to Dr. Linfante, a distal section of middlecerebral artery that supplied blood to a large area of Mrs. Sanabria’s brainwas 99 percent narrowed by plaque. A complete occlusion could have resulted indeath or severe disability. “This type of blockage requires angioplasty, whichentails surgically inserting and inflating a tiny (2 mm) balloon in the brain’smain artery to open it up and then inserting a stent to keep it open,” explainsDr. Linfante. “In this particular location, it’s very delicate, very dangerous surgery.”

Mrs. Sanabria is now recuperating from her stroke and multiplesurgeries and will be going through extensive physical therapy for some time tocome. In spite of all the injuries sustained in her fall, she considers herselfextremely lucky to have been in the right place at the right time when shesuffered her stroke.

Mrs. Sanabria, who has never gone anywhere other than Baptist Hospitalfor her medical care and insisted that she be taken there after her fall whenparamedics wanted to transport her elsewhere, says the staff couldn’t have beenmore caring or attentive. “They were so loving there, and treated me like I wastheir mother. I can’t thank them enough.”

She and her daughter both credit Dr. Linfante with helping saveher life. Says her daughter, “As a nurse, I’ve had the opportunity to work withDr. Linfante and I’ve seen him work miracles with so many patients. He’s themost amazing physician and has a God-given talent, yet he is so caring and sohumble.”

Annabell Sanabria with her daughter, bottom right, surrounded by family

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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