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Long Island teacher Steven Malinowski shares story of recovering from stroke at 23

23-year-old stroke victim shares story of recovery
23-year-old stroke victim shares story of recovery 02:24

LONG ISLAND, N.Y. -- A 23-year-old stroke victim sounds unimaginable. But this Long Island teacher said Friday he's on a mission to save lives. 

He's sharing his emotional story of recovery ahead of World Stroke Day on Saturday, CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported. 

Kindergarten teacher Steven Malinowski was in the classroom when he nearly collapsed. 

"I felt a pop in my ear and then the whole room started spinning," Malinowski said.

The excruciating ear pain subsided and Malinowski decided he was OK to drive home. But the symptoms - sudden face numbness - returned. 

"I actually used my fingers to prop up my bottom lip," said Malinowski. 

Disoriented and nauseated, Malinowski pulled over and called his girlfriend Kelly, who rushed to find him slumped over the steering wheel. 

"I'm 23. I'm not thinking I had a stroke. So we actually went to the urgent care," he said. 

Malinowski was advised to go home and sleep it off. Six hours later, Kelly and his parents rushed him to the hospital. 

"It's almost like divine timing. I'm just overly emotional," said Malinowski. 

Malinowski's life was saved because of his age and fitness (he was a college athlete). But timing is everything. Recognizing stroke warning signs, like blurred vision and balance, and calling 911 immediately are crucial. 

"The treatments that we have available for stroke are game changing. Medicine to dissolve clots ... some of the newer surgical techniques," said Dr. Kerin Hausknecht of Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital. 

New cases of debilitating, lifechanging stroke among younger to middle aged adults have increased 11 percent. The American Heart Association's latest statistics show stroke accounts for one in 19 deaths per year in the U.S. One in four adults worldwide will suffer a stroke. 

"Having my brothers and sisters and my parents and Kelly, like seeing them all upset, worried and crying," Malinowski said. 

Malinowski has fully recovered. He's teaching four and five-year-olds at Washington Street School Franklin Square. 

"How many young lives I could affect. It's like, thank God that was not taken away from me," said Malinowski, who will marry his girlfriend in December.

"I love her and she knows how much I appreciate her," he said. 

As stroke ambassador, Malinowski now volunteers for the American Heart Association. 

Doctors said Malinowski's episode was caused by a small hole in his heart. Although diet and exercise are factors, there is no universal cause for stroke in young people, which is why reacting to warning signs immediately is a must. 

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