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Sep 2, 2016 9:15 AM

UNH student recovers after stroke; abundant support from family and friends

PORTSMOUTH — Eight months ago, 21-year-old Emma Graham was a healthy UNH student. Then one January night, while she was applying for a retail job at the Fox Run Mall, she suffered a stroke.

It was caused by a benign tumor on her heart that had burst, sending fragments of tissue and blood throughout her body. Acting like blood clots, the bits of tumor blocked her blood from circulating in her legs. One of her legs had to be amputated, and she almost lost the other leg.

She also suffered a stroke when a fatty piece of the tumor lodged in her brain.

Using a new medical technology, Dr. Archie McGowan removed the tissue from her brain.

“They’re small metal baskets that open up inside the clot. Then we use x-ray guidance to find where blood vessels are [blocked]. You deploy the metal stent in that area and it captures the clot. Then you provide sucking and carefully remove it,” explained Dr. McGowan, from Portsmouth Regional Hospital.

After restoring normal blood flow to her Emma’s brain, and stabilizing her, she was air lifted to a Boston hospital.

Since then, her Manchester softball teammates have rallied around by helping to raise funds for her care.

“Thankful is not enough of a word to describe what these people have done for us,” said Tim Graham, Emma’s father.

“She’s amazing. I get my strength from Emma. She’s a fighter. She’s the one who inspires all of us,” added her mother Jen.

Emma is learning to use a new prosthesis. She plans to return to UNH to finish her last three classes, but, now, that’s not her first priority.

“Right now it’s getting my independence back, driving, and being able to walk,” said Emma.

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