Man who collapsed in London street finds ‘guardian angel’ who saved his life

Today was a Father's Day Mat nearly didn't live to see, ITV News Reporter Graham Stothard reports

A dad who survived a stroke thanks to the quick thinking of a passerby said he feels "incredibly grateful" to be alive and with his family on Father's Day.

Matthew O'Toole, 47, from Farnham in Surrey, was in London for work when he suffered a stroke on Wigmore Street at 8.30am last Thursday, June 10.

He told ITV News he woke up feeling unwell but thought no more of it and walked out to get a cup of coffee and some food.

While ordering coffee, the 47-year-old started to feel dizzy and staggered outside to a bench, where he started vomiting and sweating and had double vision.

Matthew O'Toole

He described feeling "really, really scared" at the time when a woman called Dani, who he had described as having a "kind face", stopped to ask if he was okay.

She recognised the signs of a stroke, called the ambulance, and directed them to take him straight to an emergency stroke unit.

Mat's wife Georgina, 44, shared a Twitter thread hoping to track down the woman who stopped to help. Her tweet went viral and as a result of the media coverage, Mat was able to track down the "guardian angel" who saved his life.

Georgina said the couple last night received a LinkedIn message from Dani's friend, who gave the couple Dani's email address.

Mat said: "We reached out and said, 'Is this you? If it is you, I don't even know how to begin to say thank you. Please can we meet, please can I meet you to say thank you properly.'"

'I very nearly wasn't' able to be there with my family for Father's Day, says Matthew O'Toole after he suffered a stroke in the streets of London

Mat, who has two children aged 16 and 12, said: said: "It is Father's Day and the best gift you can have on Father's Day is to be with your family, and I couldn't ask for any more.

"And really, I very nearly wasn't.

"And I know there are many people and families without fathers today, and my heart goes out to them. And I think just to be here today is amazing."

He continued: "There had been quite a few messages in response to (Georgina's) tweet, people who've had a similar thing but not had a simlar outcome.

His wife interjected: "Either it has not been recognised by the ppl around them and it's been treated like a migraine or vertigo or somethinh like that and sadly. People have said their partners or friends have not survived and it really brings it home how serious it could've been and how lucky we were that Dani was there at the time."

'I don't think the word 'thank you' covers it, it really doesn't.'

He added: "I don't think the word 'thank you' covers it, it really doesn't.

"It's just amazing, just the care and the commitment and the not walk-on-by, which actually is typified by the whole of the NHS.

"The care, the passion and the compassion of these people that you never met before, who've never met you, and you're never likely to meet again, and they just throw their heart and soul into looking after you. It's truly humbling," he said.

Mr O’Toole was able to return home to his family in Farnham after five days in hospital, and although he is lacking some balance and coordination, he is set to make a full recovery.

(Georgina O’Toole) Credit: Georgina O’Toole

Matthew is the brother in law of ITV News Wales presenter Andrea Byrne, who also appealed to find the person who saved his life.

Georgina said Dani "came across as a very lovely person, over email as well as in person”. She said the family hopes to be able to do something in thanks, such as donating to a charity of her choice. They also want to raise awareness of the fact vomiting can be a sign of a stroke.

She added: “I’ve had a lot of people say, yes, my partner or husband or dad vomited and people didn’t realise what it was, and some people said it got misdiagnosed as vertigo. “Unfortunately some people who contacted me on Twitter, their loved ones didn’t survive and that really brings it home. “Although we know the common side effects of a stroke, there can be lots of symptoms including vomiting, double vision, spinning, and nausea and I want to get that across and make sure that nobody passes on by.”