Former patient returns to UAE hospital to sing after life-saving operation


Expat patient, UAE hospital, rare stroke, UAE news, British expat, life saving operation

Abu Dhabi - The British expat suffered a rare stroke caused by a burst aneurysm in her brain in February 2018.


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Published: Wed 16 Oct 2019, 2:15 PM

Last updated: Wed 16 Oct 2019, 4:25 PM

An opera singer, who was treated at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi after suffering from a rare stroke, has returned to the hospital to perform for patients and staff.

Louise Ryan performed from the hospital gallery on Wednesday afternoon, as a gesture of thanks to the medics she credits with saving her life in advance of World Stroke Day on October 29.
Ryan, a British expat staying in Al Ain, suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage, an uncommon form of stroke caused by a burst aneurysm in her brain in February 2018.

An aneurysm is a bulge in an artery caused by a weakening in the blood vessel wall. A burst aneurysm is fatal in around half of all cases and can lead to permanent disability such as paralysis or a loss of vision or speech, which could have ended her singing career.
"I was at the gym with my husband and I suddenly felt this terrible pain from the top of my neck going up to the front of my head. I could tell this was something serious," said Ryan, who most recently performed with Emirati composer Hamad Altee for his first solo show at Manarat Al Sadiyat.

"I felt nauseous and had a weird sensation all over the left side of my body."

Concerned, she sought treatment at a nearby hospital. By the time she arrived, she was having trouble walking and seeing properly. After being evaluated, she was transferred to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, the official stroke center for Abu Dhabi city.

Upon arrival, the hospital's specialist stroke team stabilized her condition and performed an angiogram to determine the cause of her symptoms.
"Louise was certainly one of the lucky ones, since around 15percent of people who suffer a burst aneurysm pass away before reaching a hospital," Dr. Khalil Zahra, a neurointerventional surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi's Neurological Institute explains.

"Although her aneurysm had burst, she arrived at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi awake and alert with no neurological deficit. After we stabilized her in our ICU, we were able to treat her using a minimally invasive, endovascular procedure before it could lead to further complications."

Surgeons treated her aneurysm using a procedure called endovascular coiling. The minimally invasive procedure uses a catheter to reach the aneurysm through the patient's arteries, removing the need to perform open surgery on the brain. Once the catheter reaches the aneurysm, a platinum coil is released to encourage the blood to clot and the aneurysm to scar over.
Following her treatment, Ryan was admitted for observation. She was in the hospital for three weeks to allow the care team to monitor her recovery and ensure that she was not suffering from any complications such as a re-bleed of the aneurysm or brain damage.
In just three months after suffering a subarachnoid hemorrhage, she returned to her passion, performing as a mezzo soprano with the National Symphony Orchestra at a concert in Abu Dhabi. A passionate singer, Ryan now teaches children's singing classes across Abu Dhabi emirate.

"The first time I performed after the stroke, about 3 months, it was quite an out of body experience, it was something I needed to do as an indicator that I'd got my life back," said the British expat.

"Being able to perform was a very positive thing for me. By then, I felt fully complete. I'd recovered my physical strength by then so the last thing to fully heal was to go back to doing things you did before. It made me feel that everything is OK and a sense of relief."
Ryan sang in the gallery of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi for a lunchtime performance on October 16 open to the public, the theme of her performance was love and gratitude in recognition of the life-saving care she received at the hospital.
"I felt I couldn't do enough for the staff that did so much to care for me during my illness. Every single caregiver went above and beyond. Since my stroke, I have a much deeper appreciation of life and of everything I'm able to do," said Ryan adding that she saw the piano in the lobby and I thought it would be a beautiful way to say thank you.
"If you're caring for people, the best thing you can see is them fully recovered and going back to doing something they love," she said.

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