Bransgore man stranded in Portugal after suffering quadruple heart attack
A TRIP abroad turned into a holiday from hell for a Bransgore dad stranded in Portugal after suffering a quadruple heart attack.
Steve Gear (49) has been left unable to travel after undergoing emergency cardiac surgery in Lisbon.
He was said to have been minutes from death and required a helicopter to airlift him for his lifesaving operation.
A fundraising webpage has now been set up by Steve's friends and family to help him pay for his post-op care and food until he is well enough to return home.
Steve, a former fabricator/welder, suffered three minor and one major heart attack shortly before he was due to fly back to the UK from Portugal earlier this month.
Steve's lifelong friend Kay Hiscock said: "Steve was visiting his friend Richard and when these heart attacks happened, Richard could see it was bad.
"Richard just chucked him in his car and drove him to the nearest hospital, which happened to be a private hospital just six minutes away.
"I don't think Steve would have made it if they had tried to get to the general hospital, which was 20 minutes away, or if they waited for an ambulance."
Steve was treated and monitored overnight by doctors at the private hospital before being airlifted to Lisbon for emergency open heart surgery the next day.
Steve has now been fitted with an upgraded aorta titanium valve that controls bloodflow from the heart.
Kay said: "The day of his surgery was absolutely nerve-wracking for Steve's family because they can't fly out to be with him, so they had no idea how the surgery went until hours after it ended."
Steve is now recuperating at Richard's house, still in Portugal, but is having to pay for private post-op care and living expenses until he is well enough to fly back to the UK.
Kay said: "The British government is covering the cost of Steve's hospital care but Steve has to have a private carer because that is the only option.
"He has to have blood tests every few days and he can't travel safely until his blood is back to a certain thickness.
"He can't have any visitors because it's too much excitement, but he's also still providing for his daughter Skye, who's 18 and stuck here without her dad."
Kay said Steve, who was born in Ringwood, is "one of the nicest men you could ever hope to meet".
She added: "Steve has been a friend of my family since about 1977 when his family moved in next door to us.
"My dad used to think the world of him and helped Steve train to become a welder.
"There's nothing that Steve can't make and he does so much for other people and for his daughter.
"He's got a heart of gold and he would never ask anybody for anything.
"He's also really close to his mum Sandy and I think he really just wants to be back home."
The target for Steve's webpage is £10,000. The total currently stands at more than £5,500.