Stroke Treatment: The time of my stroke saved my life

Legend, Paul McCausland suffered a stroke in 2021

  • Author, Rebecca Wilson
  • Role, BBC News NI

Paul McCausland suffered a stroke in 2021 and said thrombectomy treatment saved his life.

He woke up one morning after 08:00 BST and started feeling unbalanced.

The next minute he was unable to speak or move, he told BBC News NI.

Hours later, Mr McCausland received a treatment called a thrombectomy at the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) in Belfast.

The treatment is new and most effective when given within six hours of a stroke.

It is only available in one hospital in Belfast and only Monday to Friday between 8am and 6pm.

The Department of Health (DoH) estimates that a total of £11.1 million in recurrent funding is needed to progress its Stroke Action Plan.

Legend, Paul McCausland and his wife Rachel say they are grateful to still be there with his family

Mr McCausland, 39, said it was pure luck that the timing of his stroke allowed him to undergo thrombectomy treatment.

“I was very fortunate that both surgeons who could do the treatment were there and I was there at the right time,” he said.

“I dread to think what my current state of life would be like, or even if I would be here, if I had suffered my stroke at another time.”

Mr McCausland, a father of two, said the treatment he received saved his life.

“Receiving this treatment meant everything to me, it truly saved my life. I couldn’t imagine what my quality of life would have been without this treatment,” he said.

He said he was grateful to have his two children, his wife Rachel, his parents and the rest of his family.

“Luckily, my parents were home when I had the stroke. My father started looking for me when I was gone for over an hour and found me lying on the floor of the house. the room, without moving,” he said.

When the ambulance arrived, he was taken straight to the Royal Victoria Hospital and underwent a thrombectomy within four hours of the stroke.

He now supports calls for a 24/7 thrombectomy service.

“I urge people to push for this service to be available 24/7 because it can save lives,” he added.

Legend, Alasdair O’Hara said luck should not be a factor in treating a stroke

The Stroke Association charity wants the DoH to provide this service 24/7.

Its director for Northern Ireland, Alasdair O’Hara, said one person having a thrombectomy could potentially save the NHS £47,000 in continuing care after a stroke over the next five years.

“With this treatment, people’s journey after a stroke can be better because it reduces some of the impacts.

“By putting this intervention in place you are reducing pressure on the (NHS) system,” he said.

He said people feel “lucky” after receiving the treatment.

“We really shouldn’t leave this to chance.

“No matter where you are or when you have a stroke, you should be able to access this extremely powerful treatment,” he said.

Mr O’Hara said he understood the budgetary pressures facing the DoH, but said he had promised the service could be provided 24/7.

“The goal was to achieve this by this year (2024) and we think it’s really important that this goal is achieved.”

The Department of Health said that although budgetary constraints have delayed the provision of these services, “progress has nevertheless been made against a series of priorities set out in the action plan”.

He said “some extremely difficult decisions will be necessary to manage the allocated budget.”

But initially, the emphasis will be on implementing the action plan “within current resources”, the department said.

What is a thrombectomy?

Image source, Getty Images

Legend, A thrombectomy involves the insertion of a clot removal device to remove the clot and restore blood flow.
  • A thrombectomy is a relatively new procedure used to treat certain patients with ischemic stroke.
  • An ischemic stroke is caused by a clot cutting off blood flow to part of the brain and is the most common type of stroke.
  • Thrombectomy involves the insertion of a clot removal device, through a catheter, to extract or suction the clot and restore blood flow.
  • It is able to remove clots that are too large to be destroyed by clot-busting medications.
  • A thrombectomy is normally only carried out up to six hours after symptoms appear and is only suitable for around one in ten stroke patients.

Source: Stroke Association

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