Ann Hage shouldn’t have survived her stroke, but there were too many convenient coincidences along the way for her to believe her second chance at life was anything short of a miracle. “The Lord was not through with me yet,” she said. “He and Dr. Shay, they saved my life.”
The day after Mother’s Day in 2013, Hage, 74, was giving a piano lesson in her home to an adult student, who was supposed to have already left for a lunch date. Her student decided to stay 15 extra minutes for a bit more practice, when Hage suddenly lost all muscle control during a massive stroke. Her student called 9-1-1 and an ambulance came and transported Hage to St. Francis Medical Center. “That was around noon, my next student wasn’t scheduled until maybe 3:30, and it was a child,” Hage said. “The fact that she was able to stay a few extra minutes and was an adult, it likely saved my life.”
From there, Hage just remembers bits and pieces: getting strapped into a stretcher, a bumpy ambulance ride, being on the hospital roof and finally, riding in a Flight for Life helicopter to Denver. “They told my husband there were only two doctors in the state who could save me,” she said. One of them was Scott Shay, MD and director of interventional neuroradiology at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. At the time, Dr. Shay was on staff at St. Anthony Hospital in Denver and he saw Hage as soon as she landed. “He told my husband, ‘I’ll do all I can for her,’” she said. “And boy, he did. He was my miracle doctor.” Dr. Shay was able to retrieve the large blood clot lodged in Hage’s brain with a catheter inserted through the femoral artery in the groin. “He has marvelous ability and technology,” Hage said. “I know they were concerned it might burst and bleed in my brain, but he got it out in time.”
Dr. Shay relocated to Penrose-St. Francis Health Services in October. Penrose-St. Francis provides 24/7 advanced stroke treatment and was named a certified Advanced Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission. Penrose-St. Francis is part of Centura Health, the region’s leading healthcare network.
Hage recovered most of her mobility and is back to playing the piano. “I’ve played since I was 7 years old,” she said. She now plays for enjoyment, but taught lessons and played publicly for many years, including at The Broadmoor’s Pauline Memorial Chapel and for Catholic and Protestant services at Fort Carson. “We’re snowbirds now and go down to Florida half the year to spend time with our kids and grandkids – we’ve got 10 of them,” she said. “I know I am so fortunate to be here, and for that, I am extremely grateful.”