Cornwall Air Ambulance
Matt Lane, 39, from Norfolk, explains how Cornwall Air Ambulance helped to save his life when he suffered a stroke on holiday
Matt Lane was on holiday with his family in Newquay, Cornwall, in June 2018 when he heard a loud noise inside his head and started experiencing double vision. “I had just woken up and tried to push myself off the bed, but realised I couldn’t stand up and didn’t have any feeling in the right side of my body. I knew immediately that something was seriously wrong, but had no idea what.”
Matt, now 39, remembers drifting in and out of consciousness and his son, Finley, now 6, trying to wake him up. “I tried to speak to him but was just making noises and couldn’t formulate any real words, so he thought I was just messing about.”
“I realised I couldn’t stand up and didn’t have any feeling the right side of my body. I knew immediately that something was seriously wrong, but had no idea what”
Finley went downstairs to tell his mum, Hollie, what was happening. “She came up and was shocked to see me lying there unable to communicate. Her mum – who is a nurse – checked me over, and Hollie immediately rang 999.”
The ambulance crew arrived quickly and after an initial assessment radioed Cornwall Air Ambulance, knowing Matt had to get to hospital as quickly as possible and it would have taken too long to get to a suitable one by land.
The helicopter arrived within minutes and critical-care paramedics established an airway to help Matt to breathe. Recognising the signs of a stroke, they decided to take Matt to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, as it had all the specialist facilities needed.
“Their speed and quick thinking save lives”
“I was flown to the hospital only partially awake and not really aware of what was happening,” says Matt. “I was then rushed into surgery for a thrombectomy to remove a clot in my brain, which they discovered had caused the stroke. They had no idea when or why it had developed, as I had always been in really good health.”
Matt spent the next ten days in intensive care, then a further three weeks on a ward in Derriford Hospital. “For the first week or so, I wasn’t really conscious a lot of the time, and I couldn’t move much or talk. I’d had a tracheotomy put in to help me to breathe, which really hindered my speech, but I still struggled to communicate when it was removed after ten days. I was given a sheet with letters on to help me to ‘talk’.
“I remember the football World Cup was on and, after starting to gain movement in the right side of my body, writing down, ‘What was the England score?’ It was the first thing I thought of, and everyone was really happy I had that movement back.”
After a month at Derriford Hospital, Matt was transferred to a hospital in Norfolk, where he remained for six weeks, before being moved to a rehabilitation hospital to learn to walk and talk again. “When I got back to Norfolk, I couldn’t really sit up. I was also using a computer to help me to communicate. The team helped me with my speech and got my muscles moving again, working slowly on sitting up, then walking. By the time I got home in October, I was able to walk for short distances using a walking frame.”
With the help of regular visits from health professionals to support his ongoing rehabilitation at home, Matt continued to see huge improvements in his speech, movement and general health. “I’m now thankfully walking independently without a frame and although my speech isn’t yet back to normal, it’s getting better all the time. I also initially had double vision in one eye, but that has now been corrected.
“Without the quick thinking of the air ambulance crew, the speed of the helicopter and the amazing treatment I received, the outcome could have been very different”
“However, it has left me with a slight blind spot and so I’ve had to give up my driving licence. But as it is only a small section in my field of vision, I’m hopeful of getting it back soon. I now have to take daily statins and platelet thinners, as the doctors believe that this will help to eliminate my risk of having another stroke.”
Matt is now focused on getting on with his life and making a difference. “Thankfully, I was able to return to work this February, which was a big step forward. I have also been working hard with my family and friends to raise money for the Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust, with lots of different events including a dinner dance, football match and a 10km run.”
The family recently presented the charity with a cheque for £1,400, raised through several fundraising events. “It was great to give something back, as a way of saying thank you for all they did. The air ambulance was able to get me to a specialist hospital with a fantastic neurology unit very quickly, which was vitally important.
“Without the quick thinking of the air ambulance crew, the speed of the helicopter and the amazing treatment I received, the outcome could have been very different. I feel lucky they were there for me when I needed them and am extremely grateful to them.
CORNWALL AIR AMBULANCE TRUST
TOTAL RAISED: £119,117
The trust will use the money raised in The Candis Big Give to purchase and fit a patient life-support system to a new AW169 helicopter. This will include an oxygen system and a medical bridge to house a vital-signs monitor, defibrillator, ventilator and other life-saving medical aids. This will allow the critical-care paramedics to stabilise and treat patients en route to the hospital, transforming emergency medical care for the most critically injured and seriously ill patients.
➸ Visit cornwallairambulancetrust.org to find out more.
Donations to date
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£31,620,386 to the Cancer and Polio Research Fund (1962 to 2002)
£4,429,597 to the National Asthma Campaign (1990 to 2002)
£5,500,979 to Marie Curie (1998 to 2012)
£3,304,767 to Macmillan Cancer Support (1993 to 2013)
£3,309,982 to Bliss, the special care baby charity (1990 to 2009)
£2,190,977 to Liverpool University’s Cancer Tissue Bank Research Centre (1989 to 1993)
£1,549,998 to the British Heart Foundation (2002 to 2008)
£914,053 to local groups via the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) (1990 to 2009)
£220,000 to ICAN (1989)
£246,876 to Tommy’s, the baby charity (2006 to 2009)
£303,774 to Children’s Hospices UK (2008 to 2010)
£2,500,000 to charities in The Candis Big Give
TOTAL TO DATE
In 2020, Candis Club will donate at least £250,000 from members’ magazine subscription revenue to health charities taking part in The Candis Big Give. Any additional funds will go to charities at the discretion of the General Committee of Candis Club
Make a difference
We’ve highlighted some of the charities taking part in The Candis Big Give. For a full list, and details of the life-changing projects they’re raising money for, visit candis.co.uk/charity
BREAST CANCER HAVEN
What it does: Provides emotional, practical and physical support to breast cancer sufferers. Candis Big Give project: Money raised will help the charity to provide its breast cancer support programme. Location: National Total raised: £73,766
CHAILEY HERITAGE FOUNDATION
What it does: Helps and supports children with physical disabilities. Candis Big Give project: To buy equipment that aids limb movement. Location: Sussex Total raised: £21,247
What it does: Supports people with epidermolysis bullosa (EB). Candis Big Give project: To fund enhanced care for children at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Location: London Total raised: £37,042
NOAH’S ARK CHARITY
What it does: Fundraises for the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales. Candis Big Give project: To fund facilities for the Jungle Ward. Location: Cardiff Total raised: £70,674
THE BRAIN TUMOUR CHARITY
What it does: Supports people affected by brain tumours. Candis Big Give project: Money raised will be invested into research into brain tumours. Location: National Total raised: £100,518
THE CHILDREN’S TRUST
What it does: Supports children with a brain injury. Candis Big Give project: To offer activities and therapy to children. Location: Surrey Total raised: £80,048
What it does: Provides memorable Special Days for seriously ill adults. Candis Big Give project: To offer a positive focus away from treatment. Location: National Total raised: £45,224
How Buying a Subscription Helps – In 2020, Candis Club will donate at least £250,000 from members’ magazine subscription revenue to health charities taking part in The Candis Big Give.
Any additional funds will go tocharities at the discretion of the General Committee of Candis Club.