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Stroke team helps cruise casualty

10 October 2013

Health Care

A Canadian man received lifesaving stroke treatment at Southend University Hospital after being airlifted from a cruise ship in the English Channel.

Gerry and Hazel Vanslyke had just set sail from Southampton and were heading for Belgium, their first stop on a European cruise when disaster struck.

Gerry had a stroke and was airlifted to Southend by air ambulance to be treated in the hospital's renowned stroke unit.

He arrived at the hospital in time to have vital thrombolysing (clot-busting) drugs that must be administered within a critical time frame of the first symptoms.

Meanwhile, the cruise ship made an unscheduled docking in Dover so Hazel could leave the ship and join him at his bedside.

She took a taxi all the way from Dover to Southend. The driver even let her off the fare when he realised she had no cash.

Ward nurse, Fiona Golding helped Hazel by ensuring she had hotel accommodation while Gerry was in hospital.

He has now been discharged from Southend Hospital and is doing extremely well. Consultant Dr Devesh Sinha who treated Gerry said: "We are very grateful to the air ambulance which transferred Mr Vanslyke so rapidly to Southend. His swift transfer enabled him to receive emergency treatment. He is now making a rapid recovery.

"The ambulance crews - whether air or road - are very important members of our stroke team. We have been working with them to innovatively improve communication whilst they are en route to hospital. This means emergency investigations and stroke treatment can be given even more rapidly and improve outcomes for patients."

Hazel, who emigrated to Canada from Colchester in the 1960s, is a retired nurse and could not fault the treatment her husband received at Southend University Hospital. She said: "The care has been great and everyone has been so helpful."

*Remember FAST
• Facial weakness
• Arm or leg weakness
• Speech problems
• Time to call 999