Date published: 12 January 2012
Kevin Griffiths (centre) with the medical team he credits with saving his life. L- R Stuart Greenwood (Charge Nurse A&E), Cath Curley (Stroke Thrombolysis Co-ordinator), Dr Robert Namushi (Stroke Consultant), Dr Khalil Kawafi (Stroke Consultant), Denise Knowles (Ward Manager at the Acute Stroke Unit) and Stuart Young (Ward Manager for Stroke Rehabilitation)
When retired engineer Kevin Griffiths, suffered two catastrophic and life threatening strokes within hours of each other, he was resigned to life in a wheelchair with severe disabilities.
But just three weeks later, he was back at his Rochdale home with wife Audrey, walking, talking and externally grateful to the medical team, from Fairfield General Hospital, who he credits with saving his life.
And this week Kevin met up with his team of lifesavers to thank them for giving him a Christmas he doubted he’d see.
Kevin, 63 yrs old, from Milnrow was shaving when the first stroke happened and remembers losing feeling in his right arm and leg and then nothing until a paramedic arrived.
He says: “It all happened so suddenly, one minute I was fine and then the next I was lying on the bed drifting in and out of consciousness. The only recollection I have was when I was in the ambulance and one of the paramedics told me not to worry as I was going to the best stroke unit in the North West – I remember feeling relived when I heard that.”
Kevin was rushed to Fairfield General Hospital in Bury, recently ranked as one of the top performing in the country, and taken to the stroke unit where he then suffered another major stroke.
He says: “The staff noticed straight away that I’d had another stroke and decided that I needed thrombolysing (given a clot busting drug)."
A scan then showed that Kevin had a blockage in his neck that was preventing blood and oxygen from getting to his brain and he underwent surgery.
Part of the team that treated Kevin were leading stroke consultants, Robert Namushi and Khalil Kawafi.
Dr Namushi says: “A stroke is a major medical emergency and early detection and intervention saves the brain. But to achieve this, the patient, family and medical profession have to work together. Kevin is an illustration of what coordinated, effective care can achieve. We received a call from the ambulance en route and were able to prepare and set the stroke team in motion and he arrived soon after the onset of his symptoms.”
He adds: “We were able to give him clot busting treatment immediately and this stopped further injury to his brain and improved the chances of his recovery. The treatment from the first paramedic being called, through to the work of the rehabilitation team, has meant he is making really good progress and is well on the way to a full recovery.”
Kevin adds: “I owe my life to the skill and teamwork of all those who looked after me and I can’t thank them enough. If they hadn’t acted so quickly and taken the decision to thrombolyse me, it could be a very different story. I just feel incredibly lucky to have been treated by one of the best stroke teams in the country.”
Fairfield Hospital’s stroke unit has been independently assessed as among the top performing 25% of hospitals for stroke care nationally (an extremely unusual achievement for a hospital that is not a teaching hospital) and is only one of 16 that achieved 95% or higher scores for seven out of nine indicators of best care.
There are only eight hospitals in the entire country that score higher than Fairfield.
There is currently a public consultation underway in the North East of Greater Manchester (Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, North Manchester and parts of Rossendale) looking at stroke services and how they can be improved.
For more details about the consultation and how to get involved, go to www.healthyfutures.nhs.uk or call 0161 655 7422.