Len Lutz

One of Independence, Missouri, resident Len Lutz’s greatest pleasures in retirement—besides spending time with his family and friends—is playing guitar and singing in a band, Country and Gospel Jubilee.

“The band has been around for 41 years, playing at retirement homes and for various organizations and events around the area,” says Len.  “They asked me to join them five years ago when they needed to replace their lead guitarist and vocalist.”

But when the band was playing at the Elliott Place Retirement Apartments in Raytown, Missouri, on October 10, 2009, Len hit a sour note. He was preparing to sing a familiar song when the piece of music he was holding dropped to the floor. As the 69-year-old leaned down to retrieve the sheet of paper, he collapsed.

“I was so paralyzed I couldn’t even lift a finger,” recalls Len. “The band gathered round me, trying to reassure me and keep me conscious until the ambulance arrived.”

The Raytown Fire Department, less than five minutes from Elliott Place, and an ambulance responded to the emergency call. Paramedics immediately determined Len was having a stroke; they loaded him into the ambulance and knowing time was of the essence transported him to Research Medical Center. The emergency personnel spoke with Len’s wife, Joyce, during the ride to the hospital and she arrived shortly after the ambulance.

The Research Medical Center Emergency Department team quickly responded to Len’s critical situation.  When Joyce saw Len he was paralyzed on the right side, unable to speak and communicate. Consulting neurologist Stephen Kosa, MD, Joyce and the couple’s family confirmed they wanted Len to have the drug tPA that, when given within three hours of having a stroke, can help break up blood clots.

Dr. Kosa admitted Len to the hospital’s ICU.

“I was given excellent care from the time I entered the hospital until my discharge the next Thursday,” says Len. “All of the doctors, nurses and Research Medical Center employees treated me and my wife with the utmost respect.”

Dr. Kosa was with Len and Joyce throughout his hospital stay.

“He was a prince,” says Len. “He communicated well with me and Joyce.”

Len experienced aphasia following his stroke, unable to speak the correct word for many objects and some memories and situations couldn’t be recalled at all.

“Dr. Kosa explained that Len’s brain was functioning properly and he actually knew the correct name for something but the stroke interrupted the line of communication to his speech,” says Joyce.

Len received speech therapy and will follow-up with Dr. Kosa in the spring to confirm his progress. He has rejoined the band and the praise band at church, living his life fully and with gusto.

“During a health scare, the things you love most are what you’re afraid of losing,” says Len. “Thanks to Research Medical Center and the quick action of my doctors, I’m back enjoying my family, music and friends.”