Family heartbreak over sudden death

Missed: Brian Galea with wife Michelle
Missed: Brian Galea with wife Michelle
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A wife has spoken of her “living nightmare” at an inquest into her husband’s death.

Brian Galea of Deepdale died unexpectedly aged 47 on August 14 2012, after being admitted to the Royal Preston Hospital suffering from breathlessness.

Mr Galea, who had previously had surgery for a benign brain tumour and was treated for pneumonia a week before, collapsed twice the night before his death.

Paramedics were called and diagnosed a panic attack.

Wife Michelle, told Preston Coroner’s Court yesterday: “Brian kept saying, ‘Honestly, it’s not a panic attack, I can only catch half a breath.’”

She added: “Brian was asked if he wanted to go to hospital, but took the paramedic’s advice that if he got his breathing under control he would be okay and wouldn’t need to go.”

Paramedic Paul Allerton said he couldn’t remember the case and was criticised for incomplete notes, but said it would have been normal practice to recommend transport to hospital, but Mr Galea declined.

He also said Mr Galea’s other vital signs were ‘within parametres’ and the over-breathing was brought under control after one hour.

Mr Galea spent the night on the sofa and asked to see his GP in the morning, who referred him to the Royal Preston Hospital for tests.

Mrs Galea said her husband was “laughing and joking” with a porter on the way to a CT scan when they were interrupted by a doctor saying Mr Galea needed an urgent procedure to investigate a possible pulmonary embolism - a blood clot in a main lung artery.

Mrs Galea said: “Brian didn’t know what was going on, but the doctor said if he didn’t have it, he was at risk of a massive heart attack or stroke.”

The procedure was stopped after 20 minutes when Mr Galea began to cough up blood. He was taken to Intensive Care but died a short time later.

Pathologist Dr Mark Sissons recorded the cause of death as respiratory failure as a result of large clots in both pulmonary arteries and inter-pulmonary haemorrhage.

Dr Sissons said a jagged tear in the right pulmonary artery caused by “instrumentation of the vessel” had caused the bleeding.

Mrs Galea said: “How can you have so much bad luck in one day?”

She added: “We are a really close-knot family and all our lives have ended. (Proceeding).