By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Expanded new guidelines for treating stroke patients are being called a game changer that will save lives.

These new guidelines that expand the time frame for treatment mean more people could be eligible for life-saving interventions that can minimize or prevent permanent damage.

According to scientists, one out of three stroke patients could fully recover.

“I’m a wife to my husband. I’m a mother to my children. I’m breathing and that’s absolutely to be celebrated,” said stroke survivor Cindi Dodd.

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Nine months ago, Dodd suffered a massive stroke while she slept. She woke up paralyzed on the left side of her body.

Doctors feared she’d missed the critical window for treatment — four hours for a clot-dissolving drug to be effective and six for surgery.

“I know I’m supposed to be dead. I know I should have died. I was lucky to have the procedure. It saved my life. I know this,” said Dodd.

She was part of a clinical study where doctors used scans of her brain to determine if surgery might still be an option, even hours after the stroke.

“Some small part of the brain typically dies. It’s irreversibly injured and it’s not going to come back,” said Dr. Jeremy Heit, a neuroradiologist. “But there’s a much larger area around that’s at risk of dying if the artery that’s blocked isn’t opened up.”

Two scans of Dodd’s brain – one taken before the surgery and the other after – show how doctors were able to restore the flow of blood to the area damaged by the stroke.

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“When you can take a patient who you know will either be severely disabled or possibly dead and do a procedure in a few minutes that lets them make a recovery and live a near normal life, that’s unbelievable,” said Heit.

New guidelines from the American Stroke Association now expand the “golden window” for stroke treatment from six to 24 hours.

About 300 hospitals around the country use that new automated brain imaging software, called RAPID, to identify stroke patients who may be candidates for treatment in the newly expanded time frame.

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