Linda Keir was flying over the Atlantic Ocean when she felt her heart begin to beat abnormally.

Safe landing

28/Mar/2014

REMARKABLE RECOVERY: Linda and Billy Keir

Linda Keir was flying over the Atlantic Ocean when she felt her heart begin to beat abnormally. En route to Boston on vacation from her home in Inveruvie, Scotland, she whispered to her husband Billy Keir that something was wrong.

“I remember thinking I didn’t feel well at all,” she says. “Soon after I remember I couldn’t move my right arm or leg.”

Linda Keir was having a stroke.

“A fellow passenger went to get a member of the flight crew, and within that one minute Linda couldn’t talk,” says her husband of eight years.

The call went out for a doctor on board and fortunately a physician appeared within moments. After an initial examination it was determined that Linda Keir would need care at a hospital as soon as possible. The pilots sped up the plane, and the Keirs were headed to Boston, a bit quicker than anticipated.

When stroke occurs, time is critical. Each minute that passes can mean the difference between life and death. With emergency medical responders waiting at the airport, the plane made a quick and successful landing and the Keirs were on their way to the MGH.

Within 13 minutes of arriving at the hospital, Linda Keir was placed under the care of Natalia Rost, MD, director of the Acute Stroke Service. This MGH team combines emergency medicine, nursing, radiology and neurology expertise to implement some of the safest and fastest treatment times in the country.  

Members of
Linda Keir's care team:

  • Bay Leslie-Mazwi, MD
  • Margaret Meagher, RN
  • Brijesh Mehta, MD
  • Saad Mir, MD
  • Patricia Musolino, MD, PhD
  • Andrew Thomas Reisner, MD
  • Casey Olm-Shipman, MD
  • Paulette Vieira, RN
  • Laura Sampson Westphal, PA-C

This was the case with Linda Keir, who was given tissue plasminogen activator (TPA), a drug designed to break up potentially deadly blood clots. Shortly thereafter, she underwent MRI and CT scans and within 40 minutes she was in the OR having the clot removed.

“Linda’s case is remarkable,” says Lee Schwamm, MD, executive vice chairman of Neurology and director of the MGH Stroke Service in the MGH Institute for Heart, Vascular and Stroke Care, who took over Linda’s care. “So many people played a part in her care, and for us at the MGH, this was a perfect example of the cross-departmental cooperation and streamlined approach of the acute stroke team that can rapidly assess and care for these patients.”

Within two days Linda Keir was up and walking around her floor. She regained her speech and movement in her arm and leg. To look at her; it is as if she never had a stroke.

“I never would have wanted this to happen at all, but if it was going to, I’m glad it was now,” she says. “Even if I was in my own home in Scotland and not on a plane when this happened there’s no way I would have received the type of care that I did at the MGH. I just wouldn’t have. I’m just so thankful.”



Read more articles from the 03/28/14 Hotline issue.