Deborah Martinez Defines Success in Stroke Awareness Mission

Survive Stroke Week, May 15-21

This issue of UGA Script focuses on various success stories of faculty, staff, students, preceptors, donors, and alumni in their work, studies, and support for the College of Pharmacy. However, success in life should be considered holistically – beyond the boundaries of vocations and academics. Deborah Martinez, Administrative Specialist II in Clinical and Administrative Pharmacy, defines this concept in her passion to create awareness for a serious health concern that hit close to home five years ago. And she’s sharing her message on a national stage. Here’s her story.

Quick Action Made the Difference

Prior to joining CoP in 2019, Deborah worked as a recruiter at UGA’s Graduate School. In 2018, following a morning meeting, Deborah’s speech became slurred, but she assumed she was suffering a bad migraine. However, a co-worker recognized Deborah’s symptoms as the onset of a stroke and called 911 immediately.  Her quick response likely made the difference in Deborah’s eventual, successful recovery.

Sharing Her Message With Others

Deborah is passionate about sharing her survivorship story with others. She was one of the spokespersons for this year’s national Survive Stroke Week, May 15-21, which took to the national stage on broadcast, social media, print, and a myriad of other platforms. In fact, she was one of the featured stories on the Today Show news site. In addition, she participated in a national public service announcement, and earlier this spring, she was interviewed by Fox 5 News in Atlanta. Further, she has helped the American Heart Association in some of their fundraising efforts.

Stroke Facts

According to 2021 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, and a person dies from one every 3:14 minutes. Each year, more than 795,000 individuals suffer a stroke, which is the leading cause of serious long-term disabilities. Deborah was only 36 years old at the time of her stroke; approximately 10-15% of strokes occur in adults ages 18-50. What makes a difference for survival is early action and knowing the signs and symptoms. The chances of survival are greater when emergency treatment begins quickly.

“If you think you or someone you are with is having a stroke, call 911,” said Deborah emphatically. “Time is of the essence, and the sooner you get to the hospital, the better the chances are for positive outcomes, including survival. Remember the acronym BEFAST for stroke warning symptoms!”

Warning symptoms are:

B – balance (Is your balance off?)

E – eyes (Loss of vision or blurriness.)

F – face (Look for an uneven smile.)

A – arm (Check if one arm is weak.)

S – speech (Listen for slurred speech.)

T – time (Call 911 right away!)

Deborah Martinez shares photos of her stroke journey and efforts to share the importance of early response:

Deborah and her mom at the Rehab facility during her recovery.

Climbing Blood Mountain in North Georgia after her stroke

During the American Heart Association Walk in October 2022, the Kappa Psi Brothers, along with Drs. Seagraves and Huang participated in fundraising, walking, and supporting Deborah in her efforts to raise awareness about stroke prevention and the importance of early response.

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