SUMMIT, NJ – May 6, 2021 – Every year, nearly 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke, an acute condition that can prove devastating for many, and fatal for one in six victims. Thanks to the unparalleled expertise at Atlantic Health System’s Overlook Medical Center and Atlantic Neuroscience Institute in Summit, NJ, the story of young stroke victim Joe Slota is one of hope, success, and triumph over a condition that could have debilitated him.
Slota was four days shy of his 27th birthday in June 2013 when “I experienced a cramping above my eyes like I’d never felt before,” shared the Morristown resident. After being rushed to the emergency room at Morristown Medical Center, “I woke up disoriented, with half of my vision lost in both eyes and no movement or sensation on my left side.”
Slota was transferred to Overlook Medical Center for further specialized testing where he was diagnosed with a ruptured arteriovenous malformation, or AVM. This congenital condition marked by abnormal arteries and veins inside the brain creates a dangerous high-pressure gradient that can result in or cause a hemorrhagic stroke. “The process of high-flow arteries connecting to low-flow veins can form weakened vessels and aneurysms that can rupture, bleed into the brain, and result in catastrophe,” shared Kyle Chapple, M.D., an endovascular neurosurgeon at Overlook Medical Center’s Atlantic Neuroscience Institute and partner at Altair Health.
Trained in treating the delicate nuances of AVMs, Dr. Chapple and his team worked quickly to stabilize Slota, embolize (seal off) the AVM to stop the arterial flow, and perform a craniotomy (removing part of the skull) to decompress his brain and prevent more bleeding. Slota would ultimately undergo a total of six complicated and carefully planned surgeries over that year.
“To treat Joe, we performed complex neurosurgical procedures that involved many different disciplines and an in-depth understanding of the timing of each,” shared Dr. Chapple. “Our specialized stroke and endovascular teams in the cerebral-angio suite, OR, and Neuro ICU do their jobs incredibly well and enable us to achieve such positive outcomes.”
Initially warned that he might not walk, work, drive, or play sports again, Slota, now 34 and an IT Project Manager for a professional services firm, has defied the odds and is proud and humbled to tell his story. Strengthened by the love of his family and friends throughout his ordeal and the belief that “anything is possible if you want it badly enough,” Slota recently co-authored a book on his experience, “Can’t? Just Did!” with his sister Erica, and hopes his story can inspire others to work hard and remain hopeful.
“Joe had a positive outlook and he and his family were a great team,” Dr. Chapple said. “Our medical professionals are also a great team. Our highly trained experts at Overlook Medical Center are doing high-powered neurosurgery – procedures which the community may have perceived were only possible by specialists in New York City, Philadelphia, or Boston – right here in New Jersey.”
“I didn’t have time to choose my doctors that day but was so lucky to get them,” confirmed Slota. “Dr. Chapple and his team were incredibly honest, respectful, and professional, elicited such confidence and trust, and truly saved my life. For neurological surgery,” Slota concluded, “I wouldn’t go anywhere else in the world but Overlook.”
About Atlantic Health System
Atlantic Health System is at the forefront of medicine, setting standards for quality health care in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the New York metropolitan area. Powered by a workforce of more than 16,800 team members and 4,800 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities, Atlantic Health System serves more than half of the state of New Jersey including 11 counties and 4.9 million people. The system offers more than 400 sites of care, including six hospitals: Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, NJ, Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ, Newton Medical Center in Newton NJ, Chilton Medical Center in Pompton Plains, NJ, Hackettstown Medical Center in Hackettstown, NJ and Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, NJ.
In addition to the employed workforce, Atlantic Alliance, a Clinically Integrated Network represents more than 2,500 health care providers throughout northern and central NJ. This network includes 1,000 physicians and providers comprising one of the largest multi-specialty practices in New Jersey - Atlantic Medical Group, as well as members of the Atlantic Accountable Care Organization and Optimus Healthcare Partners which work to enhance patient care delivery.
Atlantic Health System provides care for the full continuum of health care needs including 12 urgent care centers, Atlantic Rehabilitation and Atlantic Home Care and Hospice. Facilitating the connection between these services on both land and air is the transportation fleet of Atlantic Mobile Health.
Atlantic Health System leads the Healthcare Transformation Consortium, a partnership of seven regional hospitals and health systems dedicated to improving access and affordability and is a founding member of the PIER Consortium – Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research – a streamlined clinical trial system that will expand access to groundbreaking research across seven health systems in New Jersey.
Atlantic Health System has a medical school affiliation with Thomas Jefferson University and is home to the regional campus of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Morristown and Overlook Medical Centers and is the official health care partner of the New York Jets.