Seeing double and on the verge of collapse, a quick-thinking teacher asked Siri to call for help as he suffered a life-threatening stroke at the roadside.
Rob Belt, 24, stopped to post a parcel on his way home to Cherry Willingham, Lincolnshire, on December 18, 2017, when he started to feel dizzy.
Unable to see, Mr Belt managed to press the home screen button on his iPhone to ask the cyber assistant to call his fiancée, Colleen Magee, 26, telling her he thought he was dying.
Mr Belt said: ‘I felt like I had drunk 10 pints. I thought I was going to die. Siri was my lifesaver’.
Ms Magee, a physiotherapist, contacted Mr Belt’s mother, Mandy, 57, who found him unconscious slumped over the gearstick, but took him home after the non-emergency 111 service dismissed it as a crick in his neck.
The next day, Mr Belt, who visited the gym up to five times a week and ate a healthy diet, went to hospital after enduring an agonising headache, where he was told he had suffered a stroke, which is thought to have been caused by a hole in his heart, known as atrial septal defect (ASD).
Mr Belt is speaking out to raise awareness of stroke in young people.
Seeing double and on the verge of collapse, Rob Belt (pictured with his fiancée Colleen Magee) asked Siri to call for help as he suffered a life-threatening stroke at the roadside
Mr Belt stopped to post a parcel on his way home last December when he started to feel dizzy
Unable to see, Mr Belt managed to press the home screen button on his iPhone to ask the cyber assistant to call Ms Magee, telling her he thought he was dying
WHAT IS AN ATRIAL SEPTAL DEFECT?
Atrial septal defect (ASD), sometimes referred to as a hole in the heart, is a defect that causes the wall that seperates the upper chambers to not close completely.
ASD is present at birth and is thought to be genetic.
Most sufferers experience no symptoms, however, children may have poor appetite, slow growth, fatigue, shortness of breath and lung problems.
Strokes are more of a risk for people with ASD, as a blood clot can pass through the hole in upper heart chambers and travel to the brain.
Treatment depends on the child’s age, as well as the defect’s severity.
Therapy may involve surgery or medication.
Source: Congenital Heart Defects UK
‘Siri was my lifesaver’
Recalling his journey home, Mr Belt said: ‘I’d been in the car for just two minutes and remembered I needed to drop off a parcel at the Post Office.
‘I pulled over, got out of the car and then everything went really strange. Suddenly, I felt like I had drunk 10 pints.
‘I had double vision, felt really hot and dizzy. It got so bad really quickly, that I thought I was going to die. I had no idea what was happening to me.’
Rummaging in his pocket for his iPhone, he asked Siri to call ‘Miss Ireland’; his nickname for Ms Magee, who is from Kerry, Eire.
Mr Belt said: ‘If I hadn’t managed to do that, I hate to think what would have happened to me. Siri was my lifesaver.’
Hearing the panic in his voice, Ms Magee said: ‘He was in a state, saying he didn’t know what was going to happen to him and he thought he was in a really bad way.
‘I told him to try and calm down and tell me what was happening. I was panicking, too, as I was at work and couldn’t get to him.’
After receiving the call, Ms Magee tried to stay calm but was panicking and stuck at work
Ms Magee contacted Mr Belt’s mother, Mandy, who found him slumped over his gear stick
The next day, after going home, Ms Magee claims she knew something was wrong
She was devastated to learn Mr Belt had suffered a stroke after going to hospital
‘I knew something was not right’
Once Mr Belt’s mother was with him, she called the non-emergency number 111, who said he probably had a crick in his neck and should rest.
That evening, Mr Belt, who drove back to his parent’s house, had an agonising headache but dismissed it until he woke in the same discomfort the next day.
He drove to the walk-in centre in Lincoln to see a doctor where, after a 10-minute examination, he was told to go to Lincoln County Hospital immediately.
Ms Magee, who met Mr Belt two-and-a-half years ago through mutual friends, said: ‘I met him at the walk-in centre and suddenly became really scared. At hospital he was put on an IV drip for the pain and had a CT scan almost straight away.
‘From working in the medical world, through my physio job, I just knew something was not right.’
A few hours later, doctors told Mr Belt he had suffered a stroke.
Ms Magee said: ‘I wanted to burst out crying. I thought strokes happened to older people, not young and healthy guys like Rob.
‘Obviously if I had known Rob had had a stroke then I would have gone straight to him, called 999 and never let him drive.
‘Luckily, he didn’t have any facial paralysis or speech problems, which can be caused by a stroke, but he still gets tired really easily and cannot do too much strenuous activity.’
When Mr Belt told doctors he had ASD, and had open heart surgery at 18 months old, they said this could have caused his stroke, despite it being decades later.
Mr Belt, who was discharged from hospital after five days and will remain signed off from work until February, is recovering well.
After having regular physiotherapy, he is gradually building his strength and wants to help other young stroke sufferers.
Mr Belt said: ‘I want there to be a positive outcome from all this. I would love other young people who have had a stroke to know they are not alone.
‘And I plan to raise money for the Stroke Association charity too.’
Ms Magee said she would never have let him drive if she had known how serious it was
She adds she also would have called 999 if she suspected Mr Belt had suffered a stroke
Mr Belt has not experienced facial paralysis and is recovering well, but gets very tired