Mother from Cheshire who had stroke aged 29 warns ‘you’re never too young’

ITV News reporter Siham Ali spoke to Jess about how her stroke changed her life, and why she is raising awareness of the condition among young people

A 29-year-old mother from Cheshire who feared she was being “dramatic” before collapsing at work following a stroke has said she is lucky to be alive.

Jess Tierney from Runcorn is aiming to raise awareness of the life-threatening condition among her peers, warning: “You’re never too young to have a stroke.”

Paramedics initially put her symptoms down to a panic attack or Bell’s palsy – a temporary paralysis of muscles in the face – before scans showed a blockage in her brain.

Jess said: "I woke up as normal, got ready for work and then I was driving and on the way I remember feeling my neck was hurting quite a bit.

"My tongue and my lip went numb and I remember touching my face thinking something was really wrong."

Jess Tierney is aiming to raise awareness of the life-threatening condition Credit: PA News

She was transferred to The Walton Centre, a specialist neurology facility at Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool.

One of the centre's Neuroradiologist, Dr Feyi Babatola, told ITV Granada Reports: "If someone is having a stroke it's a dynamic process.

"They start having the stroke and the more time that goes on more of the brain dies. So the faster you get the clot out the less brain damage."

Mrs Tierney described staff at The Walton Centre as “amazing” and said she feels “lucky” to have the facility nearby, adding: “I could have died or it could have been life-changing.

"I'm lucky it was on my doorstep, if i'd been anywhere else in the country I might have not been here today talking to you.

"I had the Thrombectomy at night time and not everywhere offers that treatment 24/7."

Jess said that if The Walton Centre wasn't on her doorstep, she might not be alive today.

Mrs Tierney, who works in teaching recruitment, claims she had none of the traditional risk factors for stroke as she was a healthy weight, stayed fit and did not smoke.

She says she was experiencing shoulder pain while driving to work one morning in February, but put it down to a strain from her pole fitness class.

Things progressed on her lunch break when she developed a headache and her mouth and tongue went numb on one side.

She said: “I was eating my dinner and started developing a headache in my temples. I took some paracetamol and it wouldn’t go away.

"At about 2.30pm, I collapsed. It was a good job I wasn’t at home alone.”

Her husband David is hoping to raise funds for the hospital which treated his wife, by climbing Mount Snowdon in Wales Credit: PA News

In October 2021, The Walton Centre became the first facility in the North West to offer thrombectomies to stroke patients 24/7 and it has since carried out almost 400 procedures.

A thrombectomy is the surgical removal of a blood clot in an artery. It aims to restore blood flow to the brain. During the procedure, a specially-designed clot removal device is inserted.

She spent six days at Aintree University Hospital following her surgery and is now recovering.

Following surgery, she said: “I woke up and I couldn’t really feel my right side.

"I’m managing it better, you start adapting your life around that.“I have physio about three to four times a week.

"I have to use a walking stick and can do a few steps, but then I have to use a wheelchair.”

Speaking of the moment she was told she had had a stroke, Mrs Tierney said: “I went into shock and got a bit upset.

"I still haven’t really processed it now, to be honest.”

The Walton Centre is one of the only places in the UK to offer thrombectomies at all times of the day.

According to the NHS, you are more likely to have a stroke if you are over the age of 55, although one in five occurs in younger people.

Mrs Tierney admitted she thought she was “being dramatic” when her symptoms materialised, but stressed: “If you get constant headaches – I used to – just get checked. Better to be safe than sorry.”

“Because I’m a young stroke, I’m not overweight, I’m fit and healthy, they checked everything,” she said.

While Jess was lucky enough to receive urgent treatment, The Walton Centre is one of only nine locations to offer thrombectomy's 24/7.

Jennifer Gardner from the Stroke Association said: "Funding does vary across the north west and in some areas we have very little funding.

"It's concerning that the vital support you receive after stroke is down to where you live and not the type of stroke or the type of support you need."

She explained that after a 'successful' pilot Stroke Recovery trial in south Manchester and other areas of Greater Manchester, NHS England has decided to not extend the funding once it runs out.

NHS Manchester said: "We have been in dialogue with the Stroke Association on this matter and we have a further meeting scheduled later in the month.

"We continue to offer a service in South Manchester and are currently working to develop a Greater Manchester wide service specification.”

The Department of Health added: “NHS England is working towards providing access to 24/7 thrombectomy services, with thrombectomy available in 24 centres across the country and two non-neuroscience centres under development to improve patient access."We also published the first ever Long Term Workforce Plan which recognised the need to shift more care into the community and invest more in prevention and early intervention."

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