AN expat stroke survivor left stranded on Wearside enjoyed an emotional reunion with her husband in Holland after a hospital stepped in to fly her home in time for Christmas.
June Hutchinson, who was taken ill while visiting family in Sunderland, was left in limbo after discovering her health insurance did not cover her trip home.
The 72-year-old, who moved away from the city two years ago to start a new life overseas, was rushed to Sunderland Royal Hospital after suffering a stroke early last month.
However, after undergoing successful treatment at the acute stroke unit, the grandmother feared she would be forced to spend Christmas Day hundreds of miles away from husband Alan, 73. But she was able to fly home to Harlingen after bosses at the hospital agreed to cover her travelling costs.
“The hospital has been fantastic,” she said. “I couldn’t wait to get home.”
June, who was declared safe to travel by medics, was taken by ambulance from the Chester Road hospital to Newcastle Airport, before boarding a specialist flight home.
Her brother John Searle, 62, from Seaburn, said: “I cannot praise the hospital highly enough. The stroke was a real shock to all of us, but the treatment she has been given was amazing.
She is looking a lot better now.
“We had no idea there would be a problem with getting her back. We thought the insurance would cover everything.
“But the hospital were fantastic. I don’t know what we would have without their help.”
The cost of the trip, about £9,000, will come from the hospital budget.
A spokeswoman for Sunderland Royal Hospital said discharge coordinator David Bewick worked closely with the North East Ambulance Service finalise the trip.
“We made a decision that her recovery was going to be much better if she was back home with her family and in familiar surroundings,” she said. “We tried really hard to get her back before Christmas.”