Mary’s Story

Mary, who lives in Newport on the Isle of Wight, has been married to Chris for 22 years and is mother to Thomas (20) and Daisy (16). Mary is a Music Teacher and is very active in the Island’s music community, conducting Brass and Wind bands.

Mary’s story starts at around 05.30 hrs on Tuesday 12th September 2017, when her Husband Chris woke to find her choking in bed. Mary had been up in the night feeling sick. She was unable to sit up, her speech deteriorated very quickly, and she soon became unresponsive, struggling to breathe. Paramedic crews arrived very quickly and rushed Mary into St Mary’s Hospital Newport where, after a scan, it was confirmed that she had suffered a significant bleed on her brain. She was placed into an induced coma and put on life support to try and stabilise her high blood pressure whilst Chris was told that nothing more could be done until the Neurosurgeons at Southampton University College Hospital met at 08.00 hrs to discuss her scans and prognosis.

For Chris and the family, it was the longest most desperate wait of their lives. Chris finally received a call from one of the Neurosurgeons late that morning, telling him that they needed to operate on Mary to relieve the pressure building up on her brain. The Air Ambulance had been requested to transfer Mary to University Hospital Southampton (UHS). Chris had always believed that Mary would stand a chance of being saved if she was quickly transferred to UHS, but he also knew that it was unlikely she would survive the hour-long ferry journey if she went by land ambulance. Minutes later, Chris heard the distinctive sound of the Air Ambulance approaching and watched it fly into Newport. It wasn’t long before Mary’s sister, who lives close to UHS, confirmed that she had seen the Air Ambulance fly over her house and land on the hospital helipad.

Mary was in the Wessex Neurology Unit for a month, and in that time, she had a second bleed on the brain followed by a stroke, pneumonia and sepsis. The family were told twice to prepare to lose her, but she fought back and the staff at the hospital never gave up on her. They tried many different drugs to battle the sepsis and pneumonia, along with a last chance platelet transfusion, which thankfully turned things around. Mary was returned to the Island by land ambulance and spent a month in the Stroke Unit at St Mary’s Hospital, before being discharged into the care of the community stroke team.

Some ten months later, Mary is making remarkable progress, although she is still weak and suffers some short-term memory issues. Had the charitable services of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance not been available, Mary wouldn’t have survived the extra waiting time for that vital specialist treatment which was unavailable on the Island.

“There simply are not enough words to adequately describe the gratitude our family feel towards all NHS staff involved in Mary’s journey.”, Chris told us. “But particularly towards the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance team, who whilst maintaining the critical levels of care Mary needed in transit, got Mary from St Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight to UHS in just a few minutes. Even now, all the family feel a lump in their throats every time they hear or see the Air Ambulance fly into Newport, but they are also reassured that someone else, possibly in the same desperate critical condition as Mary, is being given vital advanced specialist care and a second chance of life.”

Chris set up a family direct debit several years ago to support Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance, never once imagining the family would one day need to call on its services. Chris’s message is; “If you don’t already donate monthly and can spare a few pounds to do so, please do so now; you too may one day need to call upon their services.”

To celebrate her survival, Mary and Chris renewed their wedding vows on February 14th this year; 21 years since they first married on 14th February 1996.