NHS will not pay for operation which would 'save Steph's life - can you help?

PUBLISHED: 09:00 25 January 2017

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

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

(C)2016 Jeremy Long / JCLPhotography, all rights reserved

A 24-year-old Weston-super-Mare woman who has suffered from a series of strokes needs a 'life-saving' heart operation - but the NHS will not pay for it and her determined family is appealing for help to raise the £17,000 needed to pay for it.

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

Steph Hooper, who lives on the Bournville estate, had her first stroke two days after her 21st birthday – and it is so rare in people her age that doctors did not at first believe she had suffered a stroke.

After she had a third suspected stroke at the end of 2016, where her arm went numb and she was unable to write, doctors carried out a test which showed a hole in her heart was causing the problem.

But Steph’s family were told the ‘heartbreaking’ news last week that the operation to fix it, which involves covering the hole with a patch, costs nearly £17,000 and the NHS will not pay for it.

Steph’s dad, Roger Hooper, said: “Because of the hole in her heart, she could have another stroke at any time. Having the operation done will change her life completely and stop her worrying – and stop us worrying we are going to lose her through another stroke.

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

“We are relying on the generosity of other people, which is like begging, but there is nothing else we can do.”

If the particular test which showed Steph had a hole in her heart had been done after her first stroke three years ago, the NHS would still have been funding the operation.

Steph added: “It is really heartbreaking to hear the positives about this operation and then to be told we will have to fund it ourselves.

“If they found it three years ago I would have been able to have it on the NHS.

“For three years, I have been waiting, not knowing what it was or if it would happen again.”

Steph, who is a manager at Matalan, takes blood thinners to prevent clots forming, but she would have to stop taking them if she wanted to get pregnant, putting her at risk of another stroke.

She said: “I would live a longer, healthier life with this operation, and would mean I could live a normal life.”

Roger said: “At least now there is some sort of closure on what caused it because she was always worrying about that.

“But now there is added stress knowing she has got it and they will not do anything about it.

“You can have some ridiculous operations on the NHS but not life-saving operations.

“Nobody thought she could have a stroke at such a young age, even the doctors.

“Because of the hole in her heart, she could have another stroke at any time.”

Steph’s family and friends are planning events and fundraisers to support her appeal.

To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/stephhooper

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