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Satchel Tate

When Satchel Tate, 14, collapsed suddenly during his baseball game on July 30, 2022, his parents, Gord and Rebecca, never could have imagined it was because he had a stroke. He was young, active, healthy and without warning signs of something being seriously wrong.

Satchel was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital in Bridgewater, NS, where a CT scan showed that he had a brain bleed. This life-threatening condition requires emergency medical attention. Satchel’s medical team quickly prepared to transfer him by ambulance to the IWK’s Emergency Department, where he would receive urgent, life-saving care.  

At the IWK, Satchel immediately had an MRI and an angiogram (a scan that shows blood flow), giving his care team a more detailed picture of what was happening, including the size and severity of the brain bleed. This vital information would help his highly experienced IWK care team determine the best course of treatment and care to help give him the best possible outcome.

Doctors determined that Satchel's brain bleed, which is a type of stroke, was caused by an abnormal tangle of blood vessels called an arteriovenous malformation (AVM). If left untreated, the bleeding caused by an AVM could cause significant neurological damage and could also be fatal.

Satchel’s brain bleed was found in his brainstem, an area which connects the brain and spinal cord. It helps regulate breathing and heart rate while controlling balance, coordination, and reflexes. This is a rare condition and in a region of the brain that is difficult to treat.

Gord and Rebecca were in shock. There was a great deal of uncertainty about Satchel’s recovery and the stroke’s impact on his health. Satchel was right where he needed to be—at the IWK.

Satchel spent four days in the IWK’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), a 100% donor-funded care space, where he had support to help him breathe. After his condition stabilized, he was then moved to the IWK’s Medical, Surgical and Neurosciences Unit (MSNU), where his long and challenging road to recovery would begin.

That’s when the reality of what Satchel could and couldn’t do set in. “Everything was new. His speech was slurred, and he couldn’t feed himself, sit up, walk on his own, or even wash his hands,” shared Rebecca.   

Satchel spent close to two months at the IWK undergoing rehabilitation, relearning how to do the everyday things he could do before he collapsed. “The first time he stood up without support was pretty exciting,” says Rebecca.

In August 2023, Satchel travelled to Toronto for a procedure called Gamma Knife radiosurgery, a type of radiation therapy used to treat tangled blood vessels because of its ability to target them with extreme accuracy. However, the effects of the procedure occur slowly, and it can take years to see the results, so Satchel and his family won’t know for some time whether it made a significant impact.

Although Satchel can now do most things he once could, his recovery journey is not over. Satchel has not returned to playing sports he loves due to the risks of injuries, such as baseball and hockey, but he looks forward to the day he gets back on the field and ice.

Please make a gift today to support IWK patients like Satchel who may need emergency and specialized care at the IWK, the Maritime region’s only level-one trauma centre. The IWK has all the surgical specialties and maintains a dedicated team to manage trauma like Satchel’s. 



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