North Texas teen survives stroke caused by hole in heart

A North Texas teen is grateful for her recovery after suffering a massive stroke.

The college freshman was home when suddenly her body went limp. She survived the ordeal and shared her message of love and gratitude this holiday season.

Samantha Gladys, who goes by Sam, lives an active lifestyle. The former Argyle High School cheerleader was healthy one minute and near death the next.

"My head got a really sharp pain in it. I was super light-headed, and then it all got kind of black," she said.

The 18-year old was walking down the stairs of her parent's house on October 14 when she collapsed. Her dad was home, heard the commotion and rushed over to help.

"There really wasn’t time for any emotions, just get her in good hands and see what happens," said Billy Gladys.

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Mom Tina Gladys was headed home when her husband called to tell her Sam was being rushed to the emergency room for reasons unknown. 

"We really thought it was food poisoning, dehydration or something," Tina said.

The family would soon learn Sam suffered a stroke and needed to undergo surgery immediately. She remained hospitalized for a week.

"She declined to where she lost consciousness, she had to be intubated," said Dr. Matthew Fiesta.

The doctor performed Sam's life-saving surgery at Harris Methodist Fort Worth. Fiesta said she had two separate blood clots in her distal basilar artery which supplies blood flow to the brainstem. Each clot was the size of a peanut.

"In her case, it went from her leg to her right heart went across the hole in the heart to her left heart, which goes to all your arteries, including the brain arteries," Fiesta said.

The next day doctors found what they believed to be the root cause for Sam's stroke -- a hole in her heart, which they closed up.

"I just didn’t want die," Sam said.

She’s thankful to her medical team and looking forward to spending the holidays with her family. A recent check-up went well, and she didn't require any physical therapy.

"I’m just thankful every day that I can get up and walk around and still do stuff like a normal person," Sam said.