Belfast Telegraph

Appendicitis-hit ferry passenger hails hero purser as his quick action helps save her life

By Mark Edwards

A woman has spoken of the heroic actions of a Stena Line ferry worker after he saved her life during a crossing from Belfast to Liverpool.

Barbara Smith became unwell with severe abdominal pains last Sunday during a daytime sailing to Birkenhead on the Stena Mersey ferry.

Miss Smith, a special educational needs teacher from Killinchy, Co Down, was travelling home to Warwick after a weekend in Northern Ireland.

She felt unwell on Sunday morning and booked a cabin to lie down in during the trip.

"The pain just got increasingly worse as the sailing went on," she explained.

"I could not stretch out my legs or upper body. I could only stay curled up in the bed and every time I moved it was agony.

"I ended up having to crawl out of the cabin to get help."

After 10 minutes spent lying on the floor of the deck another passenger alerted staff to her situation.

Dave Keery, an onboard sales and service co-ordinator, was the first to help.

Miss Smith added: "He said to me very quickly when he was trying to help me off the floor: 'I think you might have appendicitis'. So he treated me as if it was appendicitis because it can be very serious.

"He was telling me not to make any sudden movements."

Mr Keery arranged for the captain to speed up the ferry in order to get Miss Smith to hospital more quickly. He also arranged for an ambulance to meet her at Birkenhead.

She was then taken to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral and was admitted overnight before having emergency surgery last Monday morning to remove her appendix.

Surgeons discovered her appendix had not ruptured but was inflamed, with pus oozing into her pelvis, creating an infection.

Miss Smith said: "If my appendix had ruptured coming across it would have been a totally different story, which is why I am so grateful to Dave, because if I had moved in a particular way or taken any chances with it when we were out at sea, it might not have been a successful ending." Miss Smith spent 72 hours in hospital and is now recovering at home.

Mr Keery, from Portavogie, who has worked for more than 16 years with Stena Line, said he was delighted to hear Miss Smith was recovering.

Belfast Telegraph

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