Advance with MUSC Health

Neuroendovascular Surgeons Act Quickly, Save Her Life

Advance With MUSC Health
August 29, 2022
Dr. Alejandro M. Spiotta and Jaime Kay Cooner

As twenty-eight-year-old Jaime Kay Cooner listened to the team of MUSC Health neurosurgeons standing at her hospital bedside, she was finally getting some answers. They were explaining the results of a CT scan taken a few hours earlier. She had massive bleeding in her brain. For the eleven days prior, Jaime Kay had endured severe headaches, intense sinus pressure, vomiting, dizziness, ten days in a hospital elsewhere, and a trip to MUSC Health’s emergency room the night before. But by the time she was in the MUSC Health hospital bed the next morning, she was running out of time. All of a sudden, she had a stroke in front of the team.

The surgeons rushed her to the procedural room, where Alejandro M. Spiotta, M.D., performed a thrombectomy, which is the removal of blood clots in her brain sinuses to stop the bleeding. Spiotta is the director of Neuroendovascular surgery and vice chair of Neurosurgery.

“Thank God Dr. Spiotta was on call,” says Jaime Kay.

The bleeding continued, however, so within an hour Spiotta performed a craniotomy to release fluids and reduce pressure in the skull. This rare surgery is the surgical removal of part of the bone from the skull to expose the brain.

“When I went back in, I could tell everyone there was nervous,” says Jaime Kay. “Dr. Spiotta went out of the room to talk to my family. He explained everything to them so well. He put his arm around my mother. He assured her that he would do everything that he could.”

This surgery was successful, but about six weeks later, Jaime Kay was back with an infection. Again, surgery exposed her brain, this time so that Spiotta could wash out the infection. Then he repaired the skull opening that was created during the craniotomy.

As of August, about seven months after this fourth surgical procedure, Jamie Kay is recovering slowly but steadily. She has returned part-time to her job as a medical professional. She credits the entire team with saving her life and helping her recover. A registered nurse is accessible by telephone “literally all the time”, says Jaime Kay. “She helps me understand what’s normal in recovery, reminds me to drink water, stay out of the heat, give myself more grace.” The team’s other physicians were highly available and present, advising her and monitoring her during and after the procedures.

“Everyone was just amazing,” says Jaime Kay. “Dr. Spiotta told me much later that I was near death that morning. They saved my life.”