1 YEAR LATER: Dawne Gee's family reflects on on-air stroke

Walter and Joanna Smith (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Walter and Joanna Smith (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Alex Gee (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Alex Gee (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Brittney Gee (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Brittney Gee (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Dawne Gee and Kevin Harned hugged after talking about what happened in the studio that day. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Dawne Gee and Kevin Harned hugged after talking about what happened in the studio that day. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

On Thanksgiving night 2016, Dawne Gee suffered a stroke on-air during a live newscast. One year later, with the help of her family and others, Dawne recalls that night.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - My parents, Joanna and Walter Smith, proudly watch WAVE 3 News almost every night.

"I had told your dad, 'Dawne doesn't look right,'" Joanna Smith said. "That was on the 5:30 news. I remember calling you and asking you did you feel OK and what did you say, 'Oh I'm great. I'm just tired.'"

I was tired, physically and emotionally, after team coverage Thanksgiving Day of a mass shooting at Shawnee Park. My sister was in the park during the shooting.

My son, Alex Gee, also called because he too did not think I looked right.

"I could tell something was wrong," Alex Gee said. "I knew something was wrong."

By 7:30 that night, WAVE 3 News Chief Meteorologist Kevin Harned also had started to suspect something was going on.

"I knew something wasn't right when I saw you sitting on the floor during my first weather," Harned said.

"I never will forget that day," he added. "I sometimes can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but I will never forget that day. I saw you struggling trying to see the words on that camera. I saw you leaning forward. I thought what is going on and then it was like bump and down."

I had suffered a stroke live on-air.

"The good thing about that I thought is that it happened on the set here at WAVE," Joanna Smith said. "I just thank all the people that were here at WAVE. Kevin was right on the spot, but there were a lot of other people that were right there with you surrounding you, helping you."

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Within minutes, I was rushed right across to the Norton Hospital ER.

"Your kids weren't there yet," Harned said. "Your mother and father weren't there yet so I wanted to be your family."

"You are my family," I said.

Time saved is brain saved. In most cases, patients who experience a stroke are not the ones who recognize the symptoms.

"We didn't realize you couldn't move at all until you said you couldn't move your head," Joanna Smith said.

My daughter Brittney Gee added, "You were trying so hard to lift your head that your body was vibrating."

I was paralyzed and panicked. I told my family goodbye.

"I was like, 'Why are you saying goodbye? Let's not do this," Alex Gee said.

"No we're not doing this," Brittney Gee said. "What's the next step to get you back?"

The next step suggested by my medical team was Activase tPA, the standard of care for treating eligible acute ischemic stroke patients within one to three hours of a stroke. That window of time was still open for me. Along with its chance of success was also a chance of life-threatening side effects.

"We've got this miracle drug," Brittney Gee said. "If people who have had strokes get it immediately they typically make a full recovery. There are some pretty severe side effects it could cause."

"It was immediate though," Harned said. "Once you had tPa, that you sort of came back around."

The team responsible for distributing that life-saving drug to me is located right in my backyard in southwest Louisville. I had no idea. Days ago I had a chance to meet that team.

"Everybody was praying for you," Joanna Smith said. "We know that prayer works and to get that many people praying we knew it would work."

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