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John was talking with a fellow patient — who noticed his speech rapidly declining

John Kindschuh is now a father of three children.
Courtesy of John Kindschuh
John Kindschuh is now a father of three children.

This story is part of the My Unsung Hero series, from the Hidden Brain team, about people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else.


In 2013, John Kindschuh was on track to become a partner at an international law firm. He was enjoying being a dad to his 3-year-old son and newborn daughter. Then, one fall day, he started to feel incredibly dizzy — so dizzy, he had to be admitted to the Missouri Baptist Medical Center in St. Louis.

That's where he met his unsung hero: his hospital roommate.

"Usually, we think of our heroes as being strong or invincible ... mine was lying in the hospital bed. He was weak. He was immobile. He was vulnerable," Kindschuh said.

Kindschuh had struck up a conversation with his roommate. The man couldn't help but notice when Kindschuh's speech started to rapidly decline — prompting him to push the call button on his bedside remote.

"Medical professionals rushed into my room and began to think I was suffering from a stroke because my speech was clearly affected," Kindschuh said.

He doesn't remember much about this moment, but Kindschuh now knows he was having a massive stroke. And his roommate's quick actions may have made the difference.

"Without him, doctors would not have known to perform the life-saving surgery needed on my skull," Kindschuh said.

Nearly 10 years later, Kindschuh has regained much of what he lost to the stroke. He's able to drive, work and once again be a father to his three kids — one of whom was born after the stroke. Kindschuh attributes his life as it is now to his unsung hero.

"Without him it is unclear if I would have lived or died," Kindschuh said. "I was unable to thank him years ago. I want to say that he not only saved me, but in doing so, he saved my unborn child. I will be blessed for the rest of my entire life because of my unsung hero's actions."

My Unsung Hero is also a podcast — new episodes are released every Tuesday. To share the story of your unsung hero with the Hidden Brain team, record a voice memo on your phone and send it to myunsunghero@hiddenbrain.org.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Laura Kwerel
Autumn Barnes