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Italian Stroke Survivor Applauds Pilot Who Made Emergency Landing At MSP

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- An Italian woman is recovering in the Twin Cities Tuesday night after she suffered a stroke during a flight.

Rosanna Rizzi, 83, was on a flight from San Francisco to Frankfurt last week when she started having stroke symptoms. The pilot landed the plane early in Minneapolis to get her to a hospital.

The Rome native, world traveler and yoga teacher had spent the Christmas holiday in California visiting her daughter and grandson. It was on the flight to get her home that the happy holiday took a turn.

"I felt strange," Rizzi said. "I felt like I was fainting and I couldn't speak."

There was a doctor on board, and he talked to the pilot about Rizzi's condition.

"All of a sudden the captain announced, 'We're going to land in Minneapolis,' and there was surprise," she said. "I said, 'What's that?'"

The plane landed. Rizzi was rushed to Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, where they immediately gave her a clot-dissolving medicine.

She is now recovering there, and hopes to be able to thank the pilot who helped save her once she gets back to Italy.

"I'm very grateful," Rizzi said.

Fairview neurologist Dr. Kristen Kelly-Williams says the pilot made "the right decision."

"He saved her from potentially being in a wheelchair to now up, walking around being her normal self," Kelly-Williams said.

Rizzi used to be a flight attendant, while her husband was a pilot. She has to stay a couple more weeks in rehabilitation and then she will be on her way back to Rome.

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