Kent woman stuck in Santiago after DVT collapse

Hannah Farley–Hills in hospital in Chile
Image caption Hannah Farley-Hills cannot return home until she has been on blood thinners for a month

A woman who collapsed at an airport after getting off a long-haul flight has spoken of her horror at being told she had blood clots in her lungs.

Theatre production manager Hannah Farley-Hills, 25, from Kent, flew to Santiago in Chile two weeks ago.

On landing, she had pains in her legs and felt dizzy as she disembarked.

She was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis after being sent to hospital and cannot leave Chile until she has been on blood thinners for a month.

She said that as she got off the plane, her head was spinning, her breath was short, and then she collapsed.

Scans revealed clots on her lungs and a large one in an artery leading from her heart.

Ms Farley-Hills, from Newnham, near Faversham, said: "Every time I breathed in, my lungs looked like a snow globe [on the scan]"

'This is how I die'

The clot in her artery was an immediate threat, causing her heart to swell to "twice its normal size" and her pulse to race.

She said: "The nurses told me 'your heart is beating too fast, you have to stay calm or you are going to have a heart attack'."

Ms Farley-Hills, who was travelling alone, said: "It was really scary. I thought, this is it. This is how I die. It was horrific."

However, doctors started her on blood-thinning medication, and within about half an hour, she said the clots began to break down.

"It got a lot easier to breathe and my pulse came down and I was out of the scariest bit," she said.

What is deep vein thrombosis (DVT)?

  • DVT is a blood clot in a vein, usually in the leg
  • Symptoms include pain, swelling and warmth in the affected area, normally one calf or thigh
  • It can be very serious if clots break loose and travel to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism, with symptoms of chest pain and breathlessness
  • Tips to avoid DVT include staying a healthy weight, staying active and drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration

Source: NHS

"I've just got to wait it out," she said of her unexpected hospital stay. "My mum flew out here to be with me, so she's here which is really nice."

On her return to the UK, she will undergo tests to try to find out why it happened.

For now, she is grateful for the "pure luck" that she was at an airport and not far from a hospital when she collapsed.

"If it happened in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, there would be little that anyone could do," she said.

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