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Jacksonville woman reunites with Mayo Clinic ICU team she credits with saving her life

Sophia Chan suffered an aneurysm that led to a stroke in February. Her odds of survival weren't good. She credits Mayo Clinic staff with saving her life.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Sophia Chan doesn't remember anything from February 24 -- even calling 911 on herself. 

"I really don’t recall anything that happened until I woke up in the hospital kind of recovering from what I just went through and that was two or three weeks after, sometime in March," she said.

Chan said she later found out through a dispatcher that she told them she had an excruciating headache and was struggling to breathe. It was an aneurysm that led to a stroke. 

Chan suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage. The chances of survival were slim. 

She credits the first responders who rushed her to the hospital and the ICU team at Mayo Clinic for saving her life. 

“I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be here speaking to you. I honestly have had friends who have had an aneurysm and who have passed from that, and I think I’m just fortunate to be in Jacksonville where there’s Mayo Clinic where these fabulous doctors and nurses are," she said.

The 56-year-old mother of two spent 24 days in the ICU. Wednesday, Chan and her husband, Bobby Cullen, were reunited with the ICU team that took care of Chan. Her husband was by her side throughout her time in the hospital, communicating with the ICU team. 

"I'm very thankful for all of your hard work and for keeping me alive," Chan told them. 

Chan and Cullen shared hugs with the doctors and nurses, and brought them donuts. 

"You look wonderful," one nurse told Chan. "You look great. It's a pleasure to see you."

"This is what makes it worth it," another nurse said. 

"Thank you so much for coming back up here and saying hi to everyone. It means so much to everyone," another told Chan and Cullen.

“I think probably there was several times where I think my prognosis wasn’t good and they didn’t think I was going to make it, and the fact that they worked and continued as a team to keep me alive and keep pushing forward and not giving up on me, I’m just very thankful for," Chan said.

She said it feels like she's meeting most of the team for the first time. 

"It's like full circle to actually really meet these people that took care of me and hopefully it gives them a boost to see all of their hard work doesn’t go for naught, you know, that there are success stories," she said.

Chan and Cullen's visit coincided with National Nurses Week. It's also National Stroke Awareness Month. Chan, who's in rehab trying to regain what she lost to the stroke, said she thinks stress from work mixed with her high blood pressure caused the aneurysm. She has a message for others.

"Try to take the stress out of your life. Monitor your blood pressure. Anybody that smokes, I say please stop smoking and you really just have to put yourself first and everything else can wait," Chan said.

She also said if something doesn't feel right, see your doctor.

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