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Healthy Living: The American Heart Association of Central Alabama

Birmingham Stroke Survivor Says Have Faith in Heart Program Saved Her Life

      
<em>Torria Williams Samples after her stroke.</em>
Torria Williams Samples after her stroke.

It seems small – an educational event, a magnet, a flyer. Yet, these seemingly small things are what Torria William-Samples says saved her life.

In 2014, Torria attended an American Heart Association Have Faith in Heart event at her church, Faith Chapel. She never knew the impact it would have on her.

“Our church all wears red to raise awareness for the #1 killer of women – heart disease, and AHA puts this big event together for us. I think it’s so important to educate through the church, and it impacted a lot of lives – especially mine,” Torria said.

Just weeks after the Have Faith in Heart event, Torria left dinner with her family and headed home. Minutes later Torria’s sister Natasha Marbury got an alarming call.

“Torria said she felt like she was having a stroke. I said ‘I just saw you; you were fine. You couldn’t be having a stroke because you’re way too coherent.’ Torria insisted I call 911. Then her voice faded, and there wasn’t anything after that point,” Natasha said.

<em>Torria (on right) with her sister Natasha Marbury who called 911 when Torria recognized her stroke symptoms.</em>
Torria (on right) with her sister Natasha Marbury who called 911 when Torria recognized her stroke symptoms.

Natasha immediately called 911. The ambulance rushed Torria to the hospital, where doctors told Torria’s family that she had suffered an aneurysm and massive stroke in her late 30’s.

“As they were telling us she’s in a coma now, I’m thinking about her daughters, my nieces. I kept asking myself, ‘How am I going to tell these girls that their mom is not going to make it?’” Natasha said.

Torria spent two days in a coma. Torria underwent brain surgery, finally bringing her out of the coma. She woke up with no memory, not able to move. Torria says it was her faith, family, and the American Heart Association’s support that kept her strong.

“God spared my life, and I’m so grateful for that. The American Heart Association was there for me and my family every step of the way, and I don’t know what I would have done without them,” Torria said.

Torria says as she recovered, she kept thinking back to the moments before she made the lifesaving call to her sister. She says somewhere deep inside her brain, she was able to recognize the symptoms of stroke thanks to Have Faith in Heart. Torria says Faith Chapel is now committed to do Have Faith in Heart programs each year. Torria encourages all faith organizations to get involved. To learn more about how your organization can participate in the Have Faith in Heart program, visit Heart.org/CentralAlabama. †

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