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Northwestern Medicine patient sets personal record at 2022 Chicago Marathon after suffering a stroke and brain aneurysm before the 2019 Chicago Marathon


Jason DePetris of Long Beach, California, set a personal record at the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 9, and was reunited at the race with his Northwestern Medicine neurosurgeon

Chicago, IL – On Sunday, Oct. 9, 44-year-old Jason DePetris of Long Beach, California, set a personal record at the 2022 Chicago Marathon in his first race since suffering a stroke and brain aneurysm hours before the 2019 Chicago Marathon. Cheering from the sidelines was Babak Jahromi, MD, PhD, neurosurgeon at Northwestern Medicine, who performed a lifesaving surgery on DePetris three years prior.  

“It was awesome seeing Jason run the Chicago Marathon,” said Dr. Jahromi. “Three years ago, he was half-paralyzed with a large and dangerous brain aneurysm, and now he just finished the Chicago Marathon with a personal best. It’s an incredible comeback, and as his neurosurgeon, I couldn’t be prouder of Jason.”

“I almost had a shirt made up that said, ‘If found on road, please return to Dr. Jahromi,’” joked DePetris. “I just kept telling myself to keep my legs moving, keep my legs moving. I ran the entire race without having to walk and finished with a personal best of 4:10:37. Chicago and I had unfinished business, and I’m very happy with the outcome.” 

In October 2019, DePetris was 41 years old and preparing for his second marathon of the year – the Chicago Marathon. Jason was healthy with no history of medical conditions. 

On October 12, 2019, the morning before the marathon, DePetris was grabbing breakfast at a Chicago restaurant with his husband and mother, when suddenly his left hand went numb. As the numbness spread up his arm, DePetris’ mouth started to droop, and his speech was slurring.  

DePetris’ family called 911, and luckily, he didn’t have far to go. The restaurant was connected to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago. 

DePetris was brought into the emergency department, where doctors told him he was having a stroke. Dr. Jahromi was working that morning, and quickly performed a thrombectomy, which is a type of surgery to remove a blood clot from a blood vessel using a catheter. Thrombectomies can reduce the risk of death or permanent disability in stroke patients. 

Not only did the thrombectomy save DePetris’ life, but it led to the discovery of a large brain aneurysm.

“Jason’s blocked artery had a brain aneurysm in the middle, which made it much more complex to open the artery and not bust open the aneurysm at the same time,” said Dr. Jahromi. 

The next day, DePetris couldn’t run the Chicago Marathon. Instead, he was recovering in a hospital room at Northwestern Memorial.

After returning to California, DePetris’ recovery continued. Due to the stroke, he suffered weakness on the left side, causing his left knee to sometimes collapse. DePetris also had a lack of dexterity in his left hand and some minor visual problems. However, he was determined to get back to running – especially the Chicago Marathon. 

During the COVID pandemic, DePetris slowly ramped up his physical training, so when it came time to really train for Chicago, his body would be able to handle a real marathon training plan – and it worked. On Sunday, Oct. 9, DePetris set a personal best at the Chicago Marathon of 4:10:37 with Dr. Jahromi cheering from the sidelines and greeting DePetris at the finish line.

“Dr. Jahromi is more than just a doctor; he truly cares and is invested in his patients,” said DePetris. “Be grateful for everything you have – it can change in a split second. I was in good shape and had never even spent the night in the hospital before my stroke. I’ve learned I can take a lot more punches than I thought I could.”

DePetris signed up as a charity runner for the Chicago Marathon, raising money for the Brain Injury Recovery Foundation, which supports those who have suffered brain or spinal cord injuries. He also wrote a book about his experience, and 100% of proceeds are donated to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.

Jason and Dr. Jahromi b-roll from marathon