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October 06, 2022

Woman, 23, suffers stroke, four procedures follow in 7 hours

IU Health Methodist Hospital

Woman, 23, suffers stroke, four procedures follow in 7 hours

She was a runner and a weightlifter. She had no real health problems, until she suffered a stroke.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, TJ Banes,

Five months before tragedy struck, Paige Holder was exchanging wedding vows with her college boyfriend, Zeb. Wearing a strapless sparkling white dress, she smiled through an outdoor wedding in Madison, Ind.

It was Sept. 25, 2021. The couple met as students at Indiana State University and were excited to start their lives together - Paige working in human resources for IU Health, and Zeb working for the military.

On a day that Zeb was scheduled to be gone, he had an odd feeling that he should stay home. At 10 a.m. on that February morning, Paige had difficulty breathing and passed out. Her husband called an ambulance, she was transported to a Terre Haute hospital and then flown via IU Health LifeLine helicopter to Methodist Hospital.

Just days earlier, Paige had undergone shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. Doctors thought the blackout may have been caused by a combination of her post-surgery sedentary state, and the change in her oral birth control. The combination may have resulted in blood clots in her lungs.

At Methodist Hospital she underwent a thrombectomy to remove the clots from her arteries and veins and restore the blood flow to her vital organs. The procedure is known to reduce the risk of death and permanent damage. It was the first of four procedures performed over seven hours.

She was taken to a room in the ICU to recover and expected to return home after a few hours. Shortly after she was settled, Holder experienced a stroke.

“It was all very scary and happened so fast. I learned that there is an 80 to 90 percent death rate in these types of strokes,” said Holder.

Within seconds, she was on a breathing tube and undergoing a second thrombectomy to remove blood clots from her brain.

“When they were done they told my family that it was successful, but I had more clots in my lungs and they would be taking me back for another thrombectomy to remove those clots. So my family waited and prayed,” said Holder, the daughter of Ron and Kelli Foster. She has a younger sister, Lilly.

Not long afterward, doctors came to inform her family of more developments.

“They had removed the clots from my lungs, but noticed that I had lost a pulse in one of my feet, and found that I now had clots in both sides of my arteries going to my legs, and they even talked about the possibility of having to amputate,” said Holder. A vascular surgeon was contacted and her family members were encouraged to visit her before surgery.

Another successful procedure removed the clots from the arteries of both of her legs. Not long after the family members got another update - she was following commands and trying to write notes while on the ventilator.

In all, Holder spent 14 days in the hospital, and inpatient rehab for physical, occupational, and speech therapy.

“In a way, it was all a mystery. I was tested for clotting disorders and I tested negative. They said they had not seen this many clots even in someone with clotting disorders,” said Holder, who has been in the care of IU Health hematologist Dr. Andrew O’Brien and internal medicine specialist Dr. Warren Gavin. She anticipates remaining on blood thinners the rest of her life and she said she has already changed her form of birth control.

To the best of her knowledge, Holder said the reason for her stroke was a genetic defect. She was born with a hole in her heart.

“A lot of the population has a hole in their heart from birth but they don’t have any complications until something like this happens. Usually, the hole closes up sometime after birth,” she said. She recently traveled out of state to have a special procedure to close the hole in her heart.

She’s disappointed that she wasn’t able to participate in the Rugged Maniac, an obstacle course challenge she has taken part in since she was a freshman at Bloomington High School, and she says she won’t be riding any roller coasters any time soon. “I’m worried when I cut my finger on a can of dog food because it doesn’t want to stop bleeding for days, but I am so grateful to my IU Health team, family, and medical staff for getting me where I am six months later - 85 percent recovered,” said Holder. For now, she’ll enjoy her time as a newlywed, living with her husband and three dogs.



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A condition where a blood clot or broken blood vessel interrupts the blood flow to the brain, resulting in brain cell loss, and loss of cognitive (thinking) and physical function.

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