Young Stroke Survivor Plays On
When professional musician Michael Sinni of Germantown, Maryland, woke up early on April 5 with a numb right hand and leg, he thought he’d slept in an awkward position. He felt unwell and couldn’t hold his cellphone, so he went back to bed. When he woke again a few hours later, his mom saw him limping and the signs were unmistakable: Just 30 years old, Michael was having a stroke.
Michael’s mom called 911. An ambulance brought him to the Emergency department at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center in Rockville.
The hospital’s nationally recognized stroke care team quickly went to work. Doctors discovered a large blood clot had formed in a previously undetected hole in Michael’s heart. Using Shady Grove’s advanced biplane imaging technology, skilled interventional neurosurgeons performed mechanical thrombectomy, a minimally invasive procedure that retrieves and dissolves clots to restore blood flow to stroke patients.
That evening, Michael remembers regaining the feeling in his hand and leg while recovering in the Intensive Care Unit. He was walking the next day, with a caring nursing team carefully pacing his recovery.
“The nurses were great,” he said. “They were very attentive to me and what needed to be done.”
His progress was fast and miraculous. Michael, who plays and teaches the viola and jazz piano, was discharged just two days after his stroke. He missed only one weekend of gigs. Days later, he was performing in church for Good Friday and Easter services.
Neurologist Perry Smith, MD, medical director of Shady Grove’s stroke program, said Michael’s case is one of the most memorable in his 10 years at the hospital and shows how vital having advanced care close to home is for patients.
“When he came in, I saw how serious this was and I was just very relieved we would be able to get him a thrombectomy, and get him a thrombectomy fast, because I knew that was the only chance he had of getting better,” Dr. Smith said.
This summer, The Joint Commission certified Shady Grove as a Thrombectomy-Capable Stroke Center, recognizing its commitment to rigorous standards in advanced endovascular stroke treatments like Michael’s.
”Shady Grove is really excited to be able to offer thrombectomies to the people of Montgomery County. It’s definitely a great way to treat strokes, and this certification says that we’re good at doing it,” Dr. Smith said.
Shady Grove also earned the American Stroke Association’s Gold Plus Achievement Award with Elite Plus Honor Roll in 2022 – the ninth consecutive year the hospital has earned top recognition for applying the most up-to-date stroke treatment guidelines to improve patient care and outcomes.
Looking back, Michael said he never thought his stroke would limit his ability to play music. He was always confident things would work out. He also said that other than a rare bout of fatigue, he feels healthy and has a new perspective on enjoying what each day holds: “In that way, I think, I’ve been very fortunate.”