Tony Testa is most at home on stage. As the leader of the ‘60s doo-wop vocal group The Duprees, his voice is his instrument. When he woke up one morning unable to speak, he wondered if his 60-year career was over.
Tony, 76, a resident of Jackson, is known for singing bass, baritone, and top falsetto. When a stroke threatened his livelihood, Tony turned to CentraState for help.
“I woke up, took a drink from a water bottle, dropped the cap, and couldn’t move my hand to pick it up,” Tony recalls. “When I dropped my hairbrush and tried to explain what was happening to my girlfriend, I couldn’t speak.”
Tony’s girlfriend, Diane, drove him immediately to CentraState’s Emergency Department. The team determined that he had a blockage in an artery on the left side of his brain, and performed a CT scan to make sure there wasn’t any bleeding. Finding none, Tony was given tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, a clot-busting drug that quickly improved blood flow.
“Tony received lifesaving tPA 34 minutes after arriving in the ER,” explains Kerry Stroud, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, PCCN, stroke coordinator. “Two hours later, he started regaining feeling in his hand and his speech began to improve.”
Tony stayed in the Critical Care Unit for 24 hours before being moved to the hospital’s Stroke Unit. Although Tony had no previous history of atrial fibrillation—an abnormal heart rhythm—his care team determined that this was what caused the stroke. He started medication to treat the condition and now sees a cardiologist.
Tony will soon be back on stage with the voice that his fans know and love. He has lingering numbness in the tip of his right thumb, but no other issues from the stroke.
“Everyone at CentraState was professional and patient—even when I wasn’t,” laughs Tony, who’s looking forward to the group’s 2021 schedule. “I’m so grateful to the staff for saving my voice.”
CentraState is an Advanced Primary Stroke Center certified by The Joint Commission. It’s among an elite group of hospitals in the country with a specially trained “Stroke Alert” response team. This highly trained team follows treatment guidelines from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association and strives to administer tPA to appropriate stroke patients within 45 minutes of arrival.