Stephanie McGuinness suffered a stroke in January 2017. She was just 42 when it happened. At the time Stephanie lived in Scarva was treated at Craigavon hospital. She has since moved to Fermanagh to live with her partner Daniel and expressed her disbelief about the thoughts of closing the Stroke Unit at South West Acute Hospital.

At the time of her stroke she was a full-time carer for her mother while she also looked after her dad who was recovering from an operation. The stroke changed all of that, and it changed her life too.

“I have never been so scared in all my life,” she told the Impartial Reporter about her stroke ordeal.

The stroke affected her left hand side and she lives with its consequences every day and she has implored the people of Fermanagh to get involved in the consultation on the future of stroke services in Northern Ireland.

“I would say to please fill out the consultation. It won’t take long to do, and it is so so important. I can’t believe that they are thinking of taking the stroke unit away from Enniskillen. It makes no sense to me at all.”

The consultation contains six options for the future with four of those options seeing the closure of the stroke unit at SWAH.

As a stroke survivor Stephanie is also concerned about the aftercare element and the knock on effect any cessation of stroke services at SWAH would have in that regard:

“It would be terrible to have to travel for the after care I get. The stroke has left me very weak down my left side and travelling long distances is not easy. It just would not be ideal at all.”

But Stephanie is most worried about the consequences for people in Fermanagh who take a stroke if there is no Stroke Unite at SWAH.

“They call it the golden hour for a reason. And you need the care here. If it is moved away it will be ridiculous. The stroke unit here is the best performing in the country, so it does not make sense.”