Welwyn Garden City stroke victim cured by 'wonder drug'

PUBLISHED: 13:07 04 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:02 26 October 2009

Lawrence Crofton

Lawrence Crofton

DAD-OF-FOUR Lawrence Crofton thought his number was up when he collapsed in a pub garden after suffering a stroke. But just hours after he was whisked to hospital the 55-year-old was feeling as good as new - thanks to a clot-busting wonder drug availabl

DAD-OF-FOUR Lawrence Crofton thought his number was up when he collapsed in a pub garden after suffering a stroke.

But just hours after he was whisked to hospital the 55-year-old was feeling as good as new - thanks to a clot-busting "wonder drug" available for the first time in Times Territory.

The dramatic recovery has even led pals to dub him "JC" - as he had the stroke on a Wednesday but 'miraculously' walked out of hospital on the Friday!

Lawrence, a builder from Haldens, WGC, said: "I honestly thought that was it for me or at best I'd be in a wheelchair for life, but the turnaround was amazing.

"I literally went from having all those nightmares running through my head one minute to feeling right as rain. It truly is a wonder drug!"

Recounting his ordeal, Lawrence said he had been having dinner with his sister in St Albans on June 18 when he suddenly began experiencing difficulties with his speech.

Driving home he began to notice his left leg was becoming increasingly wobbly, so he decided to stop for a rest in his local pub.

But as he went to sit down his leg buckled beneath him. Luckily, several friends spotted him and immediately called for an ambulance.

"It was terrifying," said Lawrence. "When the paramedics arrived I had no feeling in my left leg and arm and I could barely speak. I sounded like I'd had a few too many to drink."

After arriving at the A&E department of the QE2 Hospital - where the East and North Herts NHS Trust's dedicated stroke unit is also based - a scan revealed a stroke caused by a clot blocking an artery in Lawrence's brain.

Stroke specialist Dr Declan O'Kane decided Lawrence should have the latest clot-busting treatment, called thrombolysis, and an injection was administered.

"I came in at about 6pm and within two hours I had my movement back," said Lawrence.

"I was so relieved I can't describe how it felt. I wasn't expecting it to have such a massive effect.

"I thought it would take months and months but it was so fast and there were no side effects for me whatsoever."

Further scans the following day confirmed that the clot had disappeared and Lawrence was given the all clear.

"When Dr O'Kane came to tell me I was clear I was absolutely over the moon. If he was a woman I would have kissed him!

"But all the staff were superb, I can't thank them enough. My friends and family just can't believe it.

"They keep calling me JC because on the Wednesday I thought that was it but on the Friday I was miraculously walking around, fit as a fiddle!"

He added: "This whole experience really has given me a totally new outlook on life.

"I've stopped smoking, want to drink much less and am determined to get fit again and enjoy life. I now realise just how lucky I am."

* THE specialist who helped Lawrence make a swift recovery has praised his friends for their quick-thinking actions.

Dr Declan O'Kane said: "It seems that Lawrence's good fortune was due to the fact that his friends called 999 and got him to A&E so quickly.

"This enabled the doctors to treat him within 90 minutes of the stroke beginning. Had he delayed, the treatment would not have worked.

"It is paramount that patients get help as quickly as possible if they have a sudden weakness of arm, leg or face or a difficulty with speech. They or their family should call 999 to get them to hospital immediately."

The stroke thrombolysis service at the QE2 Hospital currently runs from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday - although it is hoped to roll provision out full-time.

Dr O'Kane added: "Stroke is a terrible disease. Thrombolysis is an effective treatment that reduces disability and improves outcome in those who can get to us quickly enough.

"It does, however, require a team of specially-trained doctors, nurses, radiographers and radiologists to deliver this vital service.

"We are working hard to expand the service to 24/7 to give all our patients the same chance as Lawrence.

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