A mother-of-two is fighting for her life after suffering a brain aneurysm while waiting to check in for a repatriation flight home from a Thomas Cook dream family holiday.
Victoria Langfield, 36, had been in Antalya, Turkey, with her husband Damian, 38, and their two daughters last week when she started suffering blinding headaches and nausea on the last day.
Mr Langfield, from Halifax, West Yorkshire, was forced to take their girls out alone while Mrs Langfield stayed inside, shivering under three covers in the 30 degree heat.
While the couple and their daughters Sofia, six, and Madeline, nine, were preparing to fly home last Friday, Victoria lost consciousness at the airport check-in desk and slipped into a coma.
Victoria Langfield, 36, (pictured) had been in Antalya, Turkey, with her husband Damian, 38, and their two daughters last week when she started suffering blinding headaches and nausea on the last day
While the couple (Mrs Langfield is pictured left with her two daughters) and their daughters Sofia, six, and Madeline, nine, were preparing to fly home last Friday, Victoria lost consciousness at the airport check-in desk and slipped into a coma (right with her husband Damian)
Mrs Langfield’s family has set up a Just Giving page to help fund her husband’s time in Turkey, as well as future rehabilitation for his wife – which has so far raised more than £6,000 (the family are pictured together)
It came after the collapse of Thomas Cook on September 24, and so the family were being repatriated on another flight run by Jet2.
After being rushed in an ambulance to Lara Anatolian Hospital, in Antalya, medics fought to stabilise Mrs Langfield and that evening scans revealed she had suffered a devastating brain aneurysm.
Now, after surviving 16 hours of surgery, Mrs Langfield is in intensive care and will remain there for at least a fortnight.
But doctors were amazed by Mrs Langfield’s resilience and told the worried family that only three per cent of brain aneurysm victims get out of the ambulance alive.
And the family even witnessed a ‘miracle’ when Mrs Langfield managed to squeeze her husband’s hand after the gruelling op.
What is a brain aneurysm?
An aneurysm is a bulge in a blood vessel caused by a weakness in the blood vessel wall, usually where it branches.
As blood passes through the weakened blood vessel, the blood pressure causes a small area to bulge outwards like a balloon.
Aneurysms can develop in any blood vessel in the body, but the two most common places are:
- the artery that transports blood away from the heart to the rest of the body (the abdominal aorta)
- the brain
Most brain aneurysms only cause noticeable symptoms if they burst (rupture).
This leads to an extremely serious condition known as a subarachnoid haemorrhage, where bleeding caused by the ruptured aneurysm can cause extensive brain damage and symptoms.
- a sudden agonising headache – it’s been described as a “thunderclap headache”, similar to a sudden hit on the head, resulting in a blinding pain unlike anything experienced before
- a stiff neck
- sickness and vomiting
- pain on looking at light
About 3 in 5 people who have a subarachnoid haemorrhage die within 2 weeks.
Half of those who survive are left with severe brain damage and disability.
Mrs Langfield’s family has set up a Just Giving page to help fund the Mr Langfield’s time in Turkey, as well as future rehabilitation for his wife – which has so far raised more than £6,000.
Although the aneurysm could not have been prevented, he is hoping to raise awareness of the warning signs to help people seek medical attention and save lives.
Mr Langfield said: ‘Reality has kicked in now and it’s very difficult to cope – but we have to, for Victoria.
‘We knew she was strong, but to get through what’s she been through so far, it’s almost super-human.
‘The surgeon told me only three per cent of people who have that brain aneurysm get out of the ambulance alive. It’s the biggest brain operation the surgeons have ever done.
‘They’re never seen anyone get through an operation like that so well.
‘The fact she is now squeezing my hand and can hear us is nothing short of a miracle. It’s incredible. It was incredible.
‘It doesn’t matter how old or healthy you are, whether you’re on the beach in the morning or the pool in the afternoon.
‘This can happen if you’ve just had a shower or been out for tea, at any time, and I want to prevent more people going through this.’
On the last day of the holiday, Mr Langfield began to suffer pain at the back of her head and neck, as well as nausea.
The family were forced to turn off the lights in their hotel room because it was making her head worse.
As they returned to the airport for their flight home, Mrs Langfield began to vomit and her personality changed, making her appear distant.
But it wasn’t until they were preparing to check-in that she lost consciousness and her husband was unable to wake her.
After surviving 16 hours of surgery, Mrs Langfield is in intensive care and will remain there for at least a fortnight (she is pictured with her husband Damian)
It wasn’t until they were preparing to check-in that Mrs Langfield lost consciousness and her husband was unable to wake her (picture on holiday with one of her daughters)
Mr Langfield said: ‘We were in the hotel room at one point and my wife had a headache because the lights were hurting her.
‘We’d run out of paracetamol and I had to borrow a pushbike to drive to the pharmacy for her.
‘Normally she would get headaches in the front of the head, being an office worker, but she had pain on the back of the neck and back of the head.
‘Me and my girls went for something to eat when she wanted a sleep. When we got back she had three covers over her and her head propped up a lot.
‘It was 30 degrees in Turkey and she was cold. Wanting to sit up to relieve the pain is typical.
‘Being sick as well and an aversion to bright lights. We had to have the lights turned off in the hotel room.
‘At the airport the girls were being very clingy with her and she was just moving them away, which she would never do.
‘Eventually my wife laid down on my bag and I couldn’t wake her up. I was panicking about leaving the girls.
‘I had to run off through the crowd shouting “doctor, doctor” at the top of my voice.
‘We’re just lucky we didn’t get on that plane.
‘The people in the airport were brilliant. A woman from the British Consulate took the girls and helped them into the ambulance while I was tending to Victoria.’
As Mrs Langfield was rushed to hospital, medical staff fought to stabilise her as her husband desperately went into ‘robot mode’ to look after his girls.
Over the weekend, Mrs Langfield had an 11-hour operation to stop the bleeding on her brain and the next day, a further five-hour surgery to reduce swelling.
As Mrs Langfield was rushed to hospital, medical staff fought to stabilise her as her husband desperately went into ‘robot mode’ to look after his girls (left and right with their mother)
Amazed surgeons claimed they had never seen anyone get through such major surgery so well.
While she remains in intensive care and her condition is considered ‘stable but critical’, Mr Langfield and his wife’s sister Heather Barry experienced a ‘miracle’ as she squeezed their hand for the first time.
Mr Langfield said: ‘Me and my wife’s sister Heather held her hand and she fluttered her eyes at first trying to open them. Then when we were squeezing her hand she was squeezing it back.
‘We spoke to her for ages about the girls and how much we love her.
‘Every now and then I would stop and say ‘if you know who it is, can you stop and squeeze my hand?’ And she’d squeeze my hand.
‘It was frustrating because you’re only allowed 30 minutes every day and because this was the first time we’d actually spoken to her, we didn’t want to leave her.
‘But we understand of course. The doctors know what they’re doing.
‘They don’t want to give you hope. They’ve done all the operations that they can and there’s nothing more they can do now.
‘You panic when you see all the different tubes and monitors, but you have to learn they know what they’re doing.
‘We need to get to day 15 without any vessel spasms on the brain. That’s the biggest risk now.’
While Mr Langfield has been joined by Heather, Mrs Langfield’s step-mother Marina Kaitchenko and deputy mum Helen Powell, his family back home are looking after the couple’s young girls.
The sales account manager is now speaking to his daughters every day as they worryingly ask about their Mummy, but has promised to stay strong for them.
Mr Langfield said: ‘The girls know their mummy isn’t too well. My nine-year-old Madeline is a big mummy’s girl, she’s Victoria’s double.
‘I miss them so much. We’ve never been apart from them.
‘I’m so proud of them the last few days. The first couple of days we were completely on our own and how they coped and kept themselves occupied – I’ve never been so proud.
‘They’re back at school today and I WhatsApped them this morning. They were in their uniforms.
‘I think Sofia, my six-year-old, wouldn’t understand so we’ve said Mummy’s got a bad headache and she needs to recover before we get her home.
‘You do wonder what goes on in their little minds.
‘Madeline’s very aware and she’s very, very worried, but she’s the big sister to Sofia. Seeing them together and how Maddie’s been with Sofia – they’ve become so close.’
A Just Giving page has raised more than £6,000 so far, but Mr Langfield hopes the funds will continue to help when they return, for his wife’s rehabilitation
Now, Mrs Langfield’s cousin’s husband Anil Sharma has set up a JustGiving page to help pay for an apartment rental, living costs while Mr Langfield and his family travel to and from the hospital each day.
The page has raised more than £6,000 so far, but Mr Langfield hopes the funds will continue to help when they return, for his wife’s rehabilitation.
Mr Langfield said: ‘The very first time we went to hospital I had to pay £4,500 to just get through the door and some scans. That maxed out my credit card.
‘Surviving day-to-day at the hotel has been very difficult, but now we’ve raised a bit of money we’re looking at renting an apartment so we don’t need to worry about the hotel having rooms each day.
‘Any donations we get, once we get home safely, will go towards rehabilitation and to a brain charity to help people in the same situation.
‘We also flew with Thomas Cook so we had no rep at the airport, Jet2 have been great. They flew relatives over here and my father and daughters back home.
‘The staff at the hotel have been brilliant and you can’t walk five yards without them asking after Victoria.
‘Between us, as horrible as it’s been, we’ve stuck together. I wouldn’t have been able to cope without them.
‘We’ve got the best family and best friends. We’re so very lucky.’