ISWAN’s SeafarerHelp is a free, confidential, multilingual helpline for seafarers and their families, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. No matter whether it is the middle of the night or over the weekend, the SeafarerHelp team is always here to help seafarers who find themselves in any form of trouble, just like Gabriel* who needed urgent medical assistance on board.
The SeafarerHelp team were contacted one weekend by the cousin of a seafarer called Gabriel. The cousin reported that Gabriel had suffered a stroke on board five days previously and that the ship’s officers were only monitoring his blood pressure. Despite Gabriel’s situation, they had not arranged for him to see a doctor and the cousin told SeafarerHelp that Gabriel’s left side was becoming paralysed.
The cousin put the SeafarerHelp team in direct contact with Gabriel who confirmed that he was losing feeling in his left arm. He was extremely worried that his situation was getting worse and that it might become irreversible. The ship was going to a European port but would have to be at anchorage for around two days before it could enter, which would mean it was even longer before Gabriel would get medical assistance.
The SeafarerHelp team contacted a number of organisations in the port but, since it was a Saturday, none of them were able to assist. The team then contacted the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) in the UK, explained the situation and asked if they could give urgent assistance. The MCA contacted their coastguard counterparts that were responsible for the area where the ship was at anchor and they arranged for Gabriel to be helicoptered off the ship later that day.
Gabriel was taken to hospital where it was confirmed that he had had a stroke. He was given appropriate treatment and kept in hospital for some weeks. After he was discharged, Gabriel was repatriated and started to have physiotherapy, both of which were paid for by his employer.
Gabriel responded well to physiotherapy and began slowly recovering. His family thanked SeafarerHelp for providing assistance when their loved one needed it most.
If you are a seafarer or family member of a seafarer and need assistance, all our contact details can be found at seafarerhelp.org. Make a note of our details or save them on your phone in case you ever need our help or support.
*This seafarer’s name has been changed to protect their privacy.