Skip to the content

In this episode, 28-year-old. Katrina is hit by a car while crossing the road.  Her legs are badly broken, but Trauma Team Leader Richard Fawcett is worried that she might also be suffering from other internal injuries and that her life is at risk.

Michael is only 42 but having his second heart attack in two weeks.  The staff must act quickly. Rushing him up to the cardiac operating theatre, they find that they must remove a blood clot to save his life. And time is crucial to avoid any further damage to his heart.

Back in Resus, 72-year-old Trevor is brought in. He has fallen off his shed roof and is losing large amounts of blood from a head wound.  But that’s not the only issue. Dr Fawcett is worried that given Trevor’s age he’s also sustained bone injuries – and may have broken his neck.  

Finally, 85-year-old Barry has a leaking aortic aneurysm – a condition so critical that only a small minority of patients survive.   Dr Fawcett is keen to offer Barry the option of surgery despite his age and the slim chance he’ll make it.  Together with Barry, the team must make an agonising decision.

This episode of 999 Critical Condition delivers an intimate portrait of life-saving medicine through the eyes of those who live it – the staff and the patients.

A former teacher has made a full recovery from a life-threatening brain aneurysm following treatment at University Hospitals of North Midlands which is rarely used across the country .

Helen Norton, of Shrewsbury, was transferred to the specialist neurology service Royal Stoke University Hospital after falling ill during a spin cycling class. Her story features in tonight’s (THURS 5 NOV) episode of 999: Critical Condition, the exclusive documentary charting the life and death decisions and actions of clinicians at the hospital’s major trauma centre

Today, the 56-year-old mother-of-one said: “I was in a spinning class and up until then I had been absolutely fine but all of a sudden I just felt weird and distant from everything around me, almost like I was under water. I felt panicky and got off the bike and went for fresh air. Thankfully there was a GP at the gym who helped and staff called 999.”

Following a series of scans experts identified a brain aneurysm, which was less than a millimetre in size, located at the back of her brain – a difficult location for surgery.

In the episode Dr Sanjeev Nayak, consultant neuroradiologist, fits a special stent to improve blood flow to Helen’s brain. Today he explained that the procedure uses artificial intelligence to ensure the stent is tailor-made, measures and is placed accurately.

In the show Dr Nayak says: “An aneurysm is like a blister on the vessel of the brain and if that ruptures, in this particular case it can lead to disability or death. A third of the patients who have this haemorrhage don’t make it to the hospital, they don’t survive.

In a poignant and emotional moment, Helen’s husband Simon speaks of his love for wife Helen saying: “You can’t really put into words what that feels like, to know that someone who you love, you know, deeply that things could have turned out so very different. The doctor talked about how close you can be to death and it makes you evaluate and appreciate what you’ve got and what you potentially can lose.”

The screening of the episode makes the 12 month anniversary of Helen, who is a school receptionist,  having the aneurysm. She said: “It has been a strange 12 months, I lost my mother in August last year and then I had the brain haemorrhage followed by Covid, which has affected us all. It’s like a plague of locusts but I am so thankful that I am now fit and healthy, back at the gym and have come through it. I am grateful to Dr Nayak who both Simon and I have so much admiration for and give credit to the whole team and nursing care I received, my care was fantastic and I am very grateful.”

Watch Helen’s story on Channel 5 at 9pm on Thursday 5 November.