Blood clot survivor offers sneak peek of life saving product

A man who almost died from a deadly blood clot is to launch a product which could potentially save thousands of lives.

Paul Westerman suffered a massive pulmonary embolism – the result of a deep vein thrombosis – in 2011 and has spent the last eight years researching the condition and working with experts within respiratory and thrombolytic medicine.

Now the 51-year-old, in conjunction with leading clinicians and a world-renowned product designer, has created the RBR legflow™ – which significantly helps improve the blood flow from the lower limbs of individuals when seated.

“Globally one in four people die from causes related to deadly blood clots and this costs the NHS over £200 million every single year. But clinical research reveals many blood clots are entirely preventable.

“With this in mind, we would like to see the RBR legflow™ available in every hospital, care home, work place, air plane, gaming environment, and environment where an individual is likely to be sedentary for more than an hour.”

Paul collapsed after a minor knee injury left him immobilised for several days.

A clot, the size of a man’s thumb, had travelled from his leg – destroying the valves in the deep veins in his thigh as it went – passing through his heart and blocking both pulmonary arteries with coagulated blood.

The clot had then moved on to fill the blood vessels of the lungs, so only a trace of oxygenated blood could flow – Paul had almost suffocated.

He said: “Sadly the majority of people who suffer a massive pulmonary embolism do not survive. The reality is that my lungs and heart will never fully recover, the deep veins in the injured leg will never support natural blood flow and I will be on medication to keep me alive for the rest of my life.

“Facing this reality has not been easy. But I feel like I have a purpose – to try to boost awareness of this condition and do whatever I can to prevent others from going through this nightmare.”

Since 2011, Paul has built relationships with other survivors and their families, along with the bereaved. He has also offered his personal experience to inform changes in medical policy.

In 2013, Paul became a trustee of Thrombosis UK and in 2014 he was appointed as a committee member of The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in its examination of thromboembolic diseases.

Last year, he joined a pulmonary embolism study (initiated by the NCEPOD), working to identify avoidable and remediable factors in the management of patients diagnosed with pulmonary embolism.

The RBR legflow™ is the result of an inspired collaboration between Paul and eminent medical professionals in the field of thrombosis.

Key facts:

  • The cost of thrombosis to the NHS is estimated at over £200 million a year.
  • Globally this is a cost to health service providers of more than £22 billion each year.
  • More than 60% of all cases of VTE are associated with hospitalisation, with many events occurring up to 90 days after admission.
  • VTE affects approximately one in 1000 of the UK population and is a significant cause of mortality, long-term disability and chronic ill-health problems.
  • In Europe, there are 544,000 VTE-related deaths every year.
  • In the U.S. and Europe, VTE-related events kill more people than AIDS, breast cancer, prostate cancer and motor vehicle crashes combined
  • In the UK, up to 60% of VTE cases occur during or after hospitalisation, making it the leading    preventable cause of hospital death
  • Hospital-acquired blood clots cause an estimated 25,000 preventable deaths each year