Appeal for Steph’s ‘vital’ heart operation is more urgent than ever following another stroke, doctors warn – can you help her raise the money?

PUBLISHED: 09:29 03 February 2017 | UPDATED: 09:29 03 February 2017

Steph Hooper.

Steph Hooper.

Sub

The deadline to raise money for life-saving heart surgery for a Weston woman has become more urgent after the 24-year-old suffered yet another suspected stroke at the weekend.

Steph Hooper. Picture: Jeremy Long.Steph Hooper. Picture: Jeremy Long.

The Mercury reported how Steph Hooper has suffered three suspected strokes in the past three years – and how a ‘vital’ operation to close a hole in her heart could fix the problem.

But the NHS will not pay for the operation, and her desperate family has rallied round to try to raise the £16,000 she needs to have surgery.

The deadline to raise the money has now been shortened, after Steph found herself in hospital again after she experienced weakness in her limbs and was left unable to cut her food.

She still cannot walk properly, and is just beginning to get the strength back in her hand, but doctors have told her she could be left with more serious complications if she has another stroke.

Steph Hooper with brother Stephen Hooper, aged 25. Picture: Jeremy Long.Steph Hooper with brother Stephen Hooper, aged 25. Picture: Jeremy Long.

Her dad, Roger Hooper, told the Mercury: “A heart surgeon told her he thought she had definitely had another stroke, and it is desperate to have this operation.

“Her GP has told her he could not believe the NHS does not fund this. He said ‘you need to fight for this and you need the operation urgently in the next two to three months’.

“He said ‘if you have another one, it could be disabling’.

“We are all worried, but she is so brave and always smiling.”

Steph Hooper with brother Stephen Hooper, aged 25. Picture: Jeremy Long.Steph Hooper with brother Stephen Hooper, aged 25. Picture: Jeremy Long.

Since the appeal was launched three weeks ago, just over £4,000 
has been raised towards the operation.

Because of the doctors’ warnings, the family is now trying to set a date for the surgery, in the hope they can put down a deposit and provide the full sum once the fundraising is complete.

Steph said: “I have been told this operation is vital and it needs to be done within two to three months.

“I can’t walk properly at the minute and my right hand isn’t as strong but hopefully it will come back.

“I will keep strong, I will keep fighting.”

A fundraising event will be held at Legends, in Beach Road, on March 5 at noon.

Businesses including the Odeon cinema, McDonald’s, Gala Bingo and Marks & Spencer have donated prizes to a raffle, and there will also be live music and karaoke.

To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/stephhooper
* Why will the NHS not pay for the operation?

The operation surgeons say Steph needs is called a PFO closure.

The treatment would close the hole in her heart in a bid to prevent further strokes.

In 2013, the same year Steph first had a stroke, the NHS’ commissioning board decided to stop routinely funding the operation.

It said there was a lack of evidence to demonstrate it had ‘sufficient benefit for patients’.

But scientists have now completed a 10-year medical trial and published their findings in 2016.

Their results suggest the PFO closure does prevent recurrent strokes more effectively than medicines alone.

Steph’s consultant cardiologist Mark Turner quoted the findings in a letter to her GP, and added: “However, our commissioners have reverted to the situation where there is no routine funding for PFO closure in the whole of England.

“If NHS funding were available, I would like to offer her a PFO closure. We will put her name on our list of patients for discussion, and should funding ever become available then we will try to offer it to her.

“It is unlikely there will be any funding until at least the middle of the 2018-19 financial year, but one can always be optimistic.”

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