A WREXHAM woman who suffered a life-threatening medical emergency has thanked the ambulance crew who saved her life.

When Carol Hughes, 62, became unwell at home, she didn’t realise just how serious her condition was.

Carol, a mother-of-two and who has a history of anaemia caused by iron deficiency, initially thought that her sudden fatigue, nausea and drowsiness was a result of her condition.

But it was only when she began to vomit blood that it became clear that something more serious was afoot.

Carol said: “All was normal that day, we’d had family over at the house and we had just dropped our son back home to Liverpool.

“On the way back, me and my husband Brian stopped for refreshments, and I picked up a hot chocolate.

“Later that evening, I began being sick and due to the colour, I thought it was the hot chocolate that was coming back up.”

Fortunately, Carol’s daughter, Kate Hughes, a triage assessment nurse for the NHS 111 Wales service, based in Deeside, was at the family home and immediately recognised that something was wrong.

Kate said: “Mum seemed a little disorientated and confused and was struggling to do basic things.

“When I saw her being sick, I noticed the colour and realised she was bringing up blood, not hot chocolate.

“We rang our GP and described the situation, and they told us to get to our nearest emergency department immediately.”

However, at this point Carol had become so unwell that she was unable to even put her own shoes on.

Carol recalls lying down on the couch for what felt like a few moments but in reality, she had become unconscious.

Her daughter Kate had called for an ambulance.

Carol said: “Looking back now, it’s clear that I must have passed out and when I came back around, the ambulance crew were already in my home and had begun treating me”.

Welsh Ambulance Service paramedic Gavin Jones and Emergency Medical Technician David Reese were originally en route to another incident but were diverted to Carol’s address due to the immediately life-threatening nature of her condition.

They arrived on scene just eight minutes after the initial call was received.

Gavin, a paramedic of more than 20 years, who is based in Dolgellau, said: “Upon arrival, Carol was pale, clammy and showing classic signs of hypovolemic shock.

“After giving her medication to try and stop the vomiting, we made our way quickly to the emergency department at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

“Carol deteriorated shortly after arrival and after liaising with the triage nurse, she agreed to perform additional checks on Carol in the back of the ambulance.

“As a result of the checks, Carol was taken straight through to resus.”

Carol spent five days at Wrexham Maelor Hospital and was diagnosed with gastro-oesophageal varices, an extremely serious medical condition that can be fatal due to the fact that bleeding is often sudden and severe.

Carol underwent two rounds of surgery to stem the bleeding through a procedure known ’banding’ where small bands are used to close off the ruptured veins.

Kate said: “Being a triage nurse, I knew just how serious my mum’s condition was, but it was only afterwards that it really began to sink in.

“I am extremely grateful to the crew for their swift intervention and for the way they continued to advocate for my mum, even after arriving at the emergency department.

“They kept doing constant observations on my mum and when she began to deteriorate, they went into the emergency department and made sure that the staff inside knew that things were getting worse.”


Carol, who still suffers with some discomfort from the incident, is now recovering well at home with her husband Brian, who is a retired bank manager.

Carol said: “I will be forever grateful to Gavin and David, the wonderful crew who came to my aid that day.

“I have no doubt that they saved my life and without their help, I would not be here now.”

Oesophageal varices (swollen veins in the oesophagus) is normally linked to cirrhosis and requires urgent medical attention.