HIALEAH, Fla. – A former Miami Hurricanes player who suffered a stroke was among the stroke survivors Friday at Palmetto General Hospital who were reunited with the first responders and hospital staff who saved them.
"I just want to thank everyone for saving me and getting me back to where I'm at," Brett Perriman said.
Perriman said he is thankful that he's doing better now, but that wasn't the case a year ago.
"He told me his head was hurting and I said to him, 'I need to call 911,'" Jonathan Brooks said. "He said, 'No, no, no. I'll be fine. I'm just going to rest.' I said, 'No, you can't even walk straight. I have to call 911.'"
The former 'Canes football standout played in the NFL for nearly a decade, so the fact that he was having a stroke years later caught his family off guard.
"Everybody knew he was an athlete and he was in good shape, and nobody really saw it coming," Perriman's son, Breshad, said. "It just came out of nowhere."
Perriman was back at Palmetto General Hospital Friday to be honored as a stroke survivor and he was reunited with first responders and the medical teams who helped him get back on his feet.
"You never know. One little thing can turn into a massive life-threatening situation, like in this case," first responder Carlos Barrientos said.
"Unfortunately, if you do have a stroke, a really important thing to remember is time is of the essence. Immediately call 911," Dr. Ritesh Kaushal said.
Other stroke survivors treated at the Hialeah hospital shared their stories, as well.
"I basically went to tie my shoe and had a little difficulty. I couldn't tie it," stroke survivor Robert Buslow said.
"Then they started noticing my face. It started drooling down," another stroke survivor, Pablo Roque, said.
The Perriman's realized the long-term effects from a stroke, but were reassured that they were in good hands.
"It's really emotional for me and my family, but at the end of the day, you know we're totally blessed because he's here and he's functioning pretty well," Breshad Perriman said.
Healthcare professionals at Palmetto General Hospital stress the importance of calling 911 immediately after someone shows signs of a stroke. They said 2 million brain cells get lost in every minute that a person suffers from a stroke.