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Husband told he could wait 36 weeks for MRI scan after stroke

Case study

By Lisa Smyth

My husband suffered a stroke on November 30 last year.

Thanks to the nurse in the GP out-of-hours, the paramedics and the staff at Antrim Area Hospital A&E, he is making a good recovery.

However, aged just 36, doctors must rule out the possibility that a heart defect caused the clot which led to his stroke.

He finally underwent an ultrasound of his heart on March 13 - but only after his GP intervened because he was so concerned at how slowly things were moving.

Worryingly, this flagged up a possible hole in his heart and my husband now has to have an MRI to make a definitive diagnosis. We have been told he could wait as long as 36 weeks for this.

In the meantime, we are living with the knowledge that he may have a heart defect that could cause another stroke at any time.

My husband is making a good recovery. He has regained the use of his arm and leg, and his speech has returned - but he is still affected every day by the stroke.

I was with him when he had the stroke in November, meaning he received the miracle clot-busting drug which limited the damage to his brain. But what happens if I am not there and he has another stroke?

I am terrified to leave him for any length of time - and the MRI doctors are telling us he needs could provide the answers and reassurance we need to get on with our lives.

We have been overwhelmed after his colleagues raised a substantial amount of money for us to pay for the scan to be done privately. It is an incredible gesture - but a sad reflection on the health service of Northern Ireland.

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