A TATWORTH mum-of-two has launched a petition after discovering that she has a hole in her heart, and potentially life-saving surgery is not covered on the NHS.

Sian Mara, 35, was on holiday in Central America when she suddenly suffered a stroke, leading to her being trapped in a Cuban hospital for nearly three weeks.

When she finally returned to the UK, Mrs Mara was found to have a hole in her heart, increasing the risk of strokes.

She said: “In June, I went to Cuba with my husband and daughter. Ten days into the holiday, I collapsed in the shower and couldn’t get back up - I had suffered a stroke.

“Totally out of the blue, aged 35 with no previous health issues, a regular at the gym five days a week and I ran Combe St Nicholas 10km a couple of months prior.

“I was then stuck in a Cuban hospital for nearly three weeks waiting for my insurance company to clear me to fly home. I was completely paralysed on my left side and bed bound for the first two weeks.

“On returning home I was admitted to Musgrove where they did numerous tests to look for a cause. It was found that I have a hole in my heart, or patent foramen ovale (PFO).”

It was at this point that Sian’s stroke clinic consultant told her that there is a procedure to close the hole, but that it is not funded in Somerset.

To have the operation done privately would set the family of four back £17,942, which they cannot afford.

She added: “If I lived in London or elsewhere in the country I could have the procedure but unfortunately, as I live in Somerset, I can’t.

“It is very frustrating and disappointing. I actually feel like I have a time bomb inside me waiting to go off.”

PFO surgery falls under the responsibilities of NHS England’s Individual Funding Request process.

This means Sian can apply to have her operation funded, but is not guaranteed success.

To sign her petition, visit change.org and search PFO Closure Somerset.