herald

Tuesday 25 July 2017

Granddad fights for life in US after stroke on plane

Thomas Campbell was on his way to Miami with his family
Thomas Campbell was on his way to Miami with his family

A retired Dublin Bus driver is fighting for his life after suffering a stroke on a long-haul flight to Miami.

Dublin man Thomas Campbell (65) was on a nine-hour flight with his wife Margaret, his son, his daughter-in-law and his grandchildren when he became ill.

The former Dublin Bus and An Post employee was to spend one night in Miami before heading on a cruise to Orlando with his family.

Thomas's daughter Leonie Campbell told the Herald last night that her father remained in a critical condition in a Miami hospital.

Emergency

"He was only meant to be in Miami one night before heading on a cruise but, three hours from Miami, he suffered a stroke," she said.

"The staff on the plane were going to make an emergency landing in the Bahamas, but it would only have been 10 minutes shorter than landing in Miami, so we went ahead.

"He was without oxygen for a long time, so we weren't very hopeful."

Thomas, from Glencullen, Co Dublin, was rushed to the intensive care unit in a Miami hospital, where he underwent emergency brain surgery.

"They removed blood clots from his brain and the right side of his skull had to be removed, because his brain was swelling and bleeding so much," she said.

"He was completely unresponsive and wasn't talking or moving or anything."

After a second operation, the 65-year-old became responsive when his family played him some of his favourite music by Elvis Presley.

"He moved his thumb and then he began to improve," she said. "He started speaking and he could move his right side, but not his left."

The Dublin man, who will turn 66 in August, has six children, 11 grandchildren and four step-grandchildren.

"We all want to be out here with him, but we're taking it in turns," she said.

"It's so hard that something like this has happened so far from home. It took me nine-and-a-half hours on the plane to get to him."

The family is now fundraising to help raise money for Thomas's wife, Margaret, who has remained at his side.

"My mam needs accommodation and she could be here for months with my dad, because he won't be able to fly home for a very long time. We're trying to raise money to help her with her living expenses," said Leonie.

"The cruise was all-inclusive, and they had already bought the tickets for the Orlando theme parks, so they didn't have a lot of spending money on them. My mam has been putting everything on her credit card, so we're trying to help her."

Leonie said her dad was getting "the best care, probably better than he would have got at home".

"He's doing well. They don't really know what to expect, but he's getting great care," she said.

You can donate online by visiting gofundme.com/thomas-campbell.

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