Holly's Heart Procedure - PFO

Hi Everyone,

Firstly I Would like to thank you for taking the time to read my story.

PFO - Patent Foramen Ovale
(This is a hole between the left and right upper chambers of the heart).

When I was just thirteen years old I suddenly fell unwell during a maths lesson. I was conscious but unresponsive, the school called my mum to say that I was showing symptoms of a stroke. I was taken to A&E at Frenchay Hospital.

I lost use of the left side of my body, my face dropped on one side, my speech was slurred, I couldn't walk. My scans came back normal so after a week in hospital we were discharged with no answers. I was still unable to walk. However after a week at home and off school, I was able to go back to school aided by crutches. This was all very frustrating as I had just finished artistic gymnastics which I had been doing competitively from the age of 6 and had just joined a cheerleading squad so was used to always being very active.

A year later, my dad had a stroke. Luckily he has made a full recovery since then. He found out that he had a PFO which is a certain type of hole in the heart. At the time of his stroke there was no funding available to have a procedure that closes the hole which can prevent further strokes so had to take medication (blood thinners) to reduce the risk of having further strokes. However, 8 months later, NHS England gave hospital Trusts a limited amount of funding and my dad was able to have the procedure. This was a success.

After my dads stroke, he saw a Cardiologist and was told that my sister and I had a 50% chance of having a PFO. As I had the episode a year before, my dad asked if that could have been a similar thing. I therefore went on to have something called a bubble echo and I was then diagnosed with a PFO. At this time I was told that nothing needed to be done apart from taking extra precautions when flying to prevent blood clots. I also had to start taking aspirin.

Over the next few years I just carried on with life, finishing school, going to college, working part-time as a gym coach and being accepted onto an NHS apprenticeship working in Children's A&E. Last year, I managed to gain a place onto Team England Paracheer in Cheerleading, this was my absolute dream! I was training towards the World Championships in Florida which was in April.

In November I had another episode of where I temporarily lost the use of the left side of my body, my speech was slurred, my face dropped and memory loss. Doctors put this down to a mini stroke.

On the 28th February 2018, I had a TOE test which indicates how big the hole in my heart is. The findings of this test was that it is a large hole, something that should not be ignored. If NHS funding was available, I would have the closure procedure as I am so young and do not want to have the worry of having a bigger stroke in the future. To have this procedure privately would cost approximately £16,000.

Having this life changing procedure could prevent me from having bigger strokes in the future.

Thanks again for reading my story and for any contributions towards my fund ❤️


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Holly Curthoys 
Mangotsfield, South West England, United Kingdom
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