25-year-old stroke survivor saved from ‘locked in’ syndrome thanks to swift surgery at Queen’s Hospital


Loren Dixon

Keen world traveller Loren Dixon will be able to resume her explorations, once Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted of course, after a life-saving thrombectomy at Queen’s Hospital following a stroke caused by a clot in the basilar artery of her brain.

When not fatal, basilar artery strokes can cause devastating disabilities including head-to-toe paralysis, i.e ‘locked in syndrome’. This is why Loren, just 25 and with no stroke risk factors, is even more grateful for her treatment by our Stroke team, who ensured she walked out of the hospital just days after her stroke with no long-term effects.

Loren, who was exercising in her garden at home in Chadwell, near Grays, when she felt she’d pulled her neck, said: “I could hear and comprehend everything but couldn’t respond. When I heard the paramedics say ‘stroke’ I felt really weird as it’s something you assume older people have.

“I was transferred to Queen’s Hospital after a scan at Basildon Hospital and had the surgery quite quickly. It felt strange that they went through my groin to remove the clot on my brain. When the doctor explained to me that some people who have this form of stroke can only move their eyelids afterwards, it was really scary. The speed at which the doctors acted saved my life and I’m so grateful. I love to travel, and this means I still can.”

Loren, who had her stroke on Monday 18 May, was travelling around south east Asia with her boyfriend Harry earlier this year. They decided to cut their trip short when Covid-19 hit, a decision she was hugely grateful for when she had her stroke.

Loren added: “I’m not sure it would have been the same outcome if I’d had this while travelling.

“Because of Covid-19, a hospital was the last place I wanted to be so when the paramedics said I had to be taken in, I felt a sense of dread. But it wasn’t scary at all, the staff were lovely. It was strange not seeing my family due to visiting restrictions, but I was able to keep them updated via Facetime.”

The procedure Loren had at our specialist stroke unit was a thrombectomy, a non-invasive procedure which involves removing blood clots by using a small surgical hook, which enters the patient’s body via their groin. Loren’s full recovery ensures she will be able to get back to climbing mountains and swimming with wild dolphins in New Zealand and meeting monkeys in Thailand as soon as she can.

Loren’s unfounded fears about coming to hospital are a good example of why anyone requiring emergency care should still come to our emergency departments. While we understand people are anxious about coming to hospital, if they need emergency care, they should be reassured that there are separate routes through our hospitals for patients who do not have suspected Covid-19.

Pictured is Loren at Queen’s Hospital.


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