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A 10-year-old boy helped to save his mother by raising the alarm when she collapsed at home from a stroke.
Jack Randall’s quick thinking enabled Nichola to undergo a pioneering procedure at St George’s hospital, in Tooting, to “fish out” the potentially deadly blood clot from her brain.
Mrs Randall, 44, was washing up at home in Surrey on February 22 when she noticed problems with her peripheral left-side vision.
“I thought I was getting a migraine,” she told the Standard. “Then my left arm started moving uncontrollably and my legs felt like jelly. Jack was playing his Xbox. By the time he got to me, I had gone over on the floor.”
Jack, who was at home for half term, said: “I went into the kitchen and saw her on the floor and immediately said to her, ‘I will phone an ambulance.’”
Mrs Randall protested that an ambulance was unnecessary but Jack “knew exactly what needed to be done” and alerted a neighbour, who called 999.
She was taken to Frimley Park hospital, where she was given clot-busting drugs. She was paralysed down the left side of her body and could barely speak.
Doctors realised the seriousness of her condition and transferred her to St George’s. The story emerged when she and Jack returned to thank medics on Friday.
Mrs Randall is one of 160 stroke victims to have the emergency procedure, known as mechanical thrombectomy, at St George’s since July last year, when it became the only UK hospital to offer it 24/7.
It involves inserting a catheter into the femoral artery in the groin and manoeuvring it until it reaches the blocked blood vessel in the brain.
A 4mm by 20mm “net” is released to catch the clot and allow it to be dragged out.
Mrs Randall, who was awake during the 27-minute procedure, said: “The result was instantaneous. I had significant feeling down my left side again and could speak more clearly.”
Apart from a slight weakness in her left hand, she has made a full recovery. “Words can’t describe how I feel. It’s mind-blowing,” she said.
“I owe so much to so many people. The quick actions of my son and of all the medical staff undoubtedly saved my life and prevented any long-lasting effects.”
Dr Ruchi Kabra, the consultant interventional neuroradiologist who led the team at St George’s, said: “There are very few patients we get to see six months later. It’s absolutely amazing — stroke intervention is one of the most rewarding things we do.
“It’s hard to appreciate at the time but it really does change the trajectory of somebody’s life.”
The aim is to start treatment within six hours of an ischaemic stroke, when a clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain.
Patients have come from as far afield as Bournemouth, with some being flown to St George’s by helicopter.
Dr Kabra said: “Part of the brain is being starved of blood. You have literally just ‘opened the door’ to let the blood through.
“It’s a bit like having your arm squeezed for a long time and then someone releases it. It’s brilliant when recovery happens that quickly, but it doesn’t happen in all patients. Younger brains tend to bounce back a bit faster.”
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