A family has been left heartbroken after two sisters died from strokes within 24 hours of each other.
Amanda Williams, 54, collapsed in the street in Leicester while planning to travel o Germany to be at the bedside of Jacqueline, 57, who was in critical condition.
Amanda was found slumped on the road by an off-duty nurse who attempted CPR as paramedics were called.
She had been trying to make it to her dying sister, who had suffered a stroke in Ingolstadt earlier this month.
Jacqueline (left), 57, and Amanda Williams (right), 54, both suffered strokes and died within 24 hours each other
Amanda (right, with her daughter Kellie) collapsed in the street in Leicester on the way to the airport to be at the bedside of Jacqueline who had fallen seriously ill in Germany
Heartbroken family: Mother Jean, 80, with her husband Graham, and Amanda’s daughter Kellie, with her husband Ash
Neither regained consciousness. Their mother Jean Williams said she felt like she had been ‘hit by a sledgehammer’ when she was told she had lost not one but two daughters within a matter of hours.
The 80-year-old, from Loughborough, Leicester, recieved a phone call from Jacqueline’s daughter, Charlene, on September 5.
She was told Jacqueline had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke and ‘that it wasn’t looking good’.
Jean added: ‘We were told it was a bleed on the brain. We knew we had to fly over there as quickly as possible.’
But as Jean, Amanda, and her daughter, Kellie Aikens, were preparing to fly to Germany Amanda herself collapsed.
WHAT IS A STROKE?
There are two kinds of stroke:
1. ISCHEMIC STROKE
An ischemic stroke – which accounts for 80 percent of strokes – occurs when there is a blockage in a blood vessel that prevents blood from reaching part of the brain.
2. HEMORRHAGIC STROKE
The more rare, a hemorrhagic stroke, occurs when a blood vessel bursts, flooding part of the brain with too much blood while depriving other areas of adequate blood supply.
It can be the result of an AVM, or arteriovenous malformation (an abnormal cluster of blood vessels), in the brain.
Thirty percent of subarachnoid hemorrhage sufferers die before reaching the hospital. A further 25 percent die within 24 hours. And 40 percent of survivors die within a week.
Age, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, family history, and history of a previous stroke or TIA are all risk factors for having a stroke.
SYMPTOMS OF A STROKE
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Of the roughly three out of four people who survive a stroke, many will have life-long disabilities.
This includes difficulty walking, communicating, eating, and completing everyday tasks or chores.
Both are potentially fatal, and patients require surgery or a drug called tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) within three hours to save them.
Jean added: ‘Amanda lived several miles away, so my husband, Graham, drove over on Thursday lunchtime to get her to come over to ours to see what flights we could get.
‘When we got near to where she lived, we saw the police and an ambulance down the road.
‘We knocked on her door and never dreamed they were there for her. I said to Graham, “Oh no, some poor soul is in a bad way”.
‘The next thing was that we had a call saying she was on her way to Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, so we followed the ambulance.
Ms Aitkens, 34, who lives in Market Harborough, Leicester, said: ‘The nurse had seen mum go down. When I called mum the nurse picked the phone up and told me she was unresponsive.
‘I’m guessing she had gone to the shop. It all happened so fast – in a crazy 20 minutes – that it’s hard to understand.
‘Mum hadn’t collapsed before but she was under so much stress. I had to have surgery to remove a benign tumour from my brain in February and she was so supportive, and then to get the news about my auntie. We think it was too much for her.’
Amanda was put on life support while she underwent tests to establish what had happened.
Kellie said: ‘On Friday they stopped the sedation, but she didn’t come round. She was being kept alive by the ventilators.
‘She was pronounced dead on the Saturday. We found out Jacqueline had also passed on the Friday.’
Jean, who has another daughter, Karena, aged 60, said: ‘I felt like I had been hit with a sledgehammer. I still do. I haven’t taken it all in yet.
‘To lose two children within 24 hours in different countries.’
‘Jacqueline and Amanda were close. They were both very spontaneous and they loved to travel,’ said Jean.
‘There was only three years between them and I still remember finding Jacqueline in Amanda’s cot when she was a baby just stroking her face.
‘They were so affectionate to each other and all their relatives.’
The family is arranging with the German authorities to have Jacqueline flown home so the sisters can have a joint funeral at Gilroes Cemetery in Leicester on Monday, September 30.
Kellie added: ‘My auntie left little notes all over the house. I keep finding them around her house and they say ‘You’re a winner’, ‘Keep Smiling.’ One said, ‘Ich liebe dich’, which is ‘I love you’ in German.
‘I’ve kept them all. The biggest shock for our family is not just that they are both gone, but how.
‘If they had both been in a car that crashed it would be a little easier to understand, but two sisters, three years apart, in different countries who both die of a brain haemorrhage in the same day.
‘It doesn’t seem logical or possible. We want it to be slightly different. We want it to be a celebration of two amazing lives.
‘We want it to be fun, not sad. We want there to be music and maybe a little dancing, because we know that is what they would have wanted.’