Selfies save Fraser woman from what could have been 'life-altering stroke'

Juanita Branch saw face drooping in photos

CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. - A Fraser woman said a selfie saved her life because she was worried about what she saw in a photo and sought medical attention.

Wednesday was the last day of in-patient physical therapy for Juanita Branch, who will return home Thursday after spending 26 days at Henry Ford Health System Hospital in Macomb County.

Branch, 63, of Fraser, suffered what experts said could have been a life-altering stroke, but she'll be leaving the hospital with minimal deficits and a new love for selfies.

"I used to make fun of selfies," Branch said.

Branch said she worked hard to lose weight and decided she needed to update her Facebook profile picture. She lives alone and decided to take a selfie.

When she looked at the photos, she said she saw a stroke happening before her eyes, and the camera captured it one frame at a time.

Photos show the progression, starting with drooping eyes and then a drooping mouth. Branch said she had a stroke several years ago and, this time, she saw what she couldn't feel.

"I doesn't hurt," Branch said. "I stood up and got wobbly."

She called 911 and was at the hospital within 30 minutes. Physicians said the time stamp on the photos told them everything they needed to know to give her a stroke wonder drug: tissue plasinogen activator, or TPA.

TPA is only a wonder drug if it's administered during a very specific window of three to 4 1/2 hours after the stroke, experts said. If it's administered any later than that time frame, it can cause more bleeding in the brain.

Doctors said the drug can work if tit is administered in time, but they usually can't do that because they can't pinpoint the start of a stroke.

Branch's photos documented the exact onset of the stroke, so doctors could stop it and reverse most of the damage and reduce progressive defects. Doctors said the selfies saved Branch's life.

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