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Family’s warning as mum with ‘heart of gold’ dies suddenly

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A “selfless” mother died suddenly of a haemorrhage – caused by a brain aneurysm – hours after her birthday night out.

Joanne Barker celebrated turning 53 with “nothing wrong” after a “lovely” evening out with her family but became unresponsive that night and died in hospital the evening after.

Doctors identified a brain aneurysm – a type of bulge in the artery wall – as to blame, having resulted in a fatal haemorrhage. Her family were unaware of any symptoms prior to her death, and Joanne appeared fit and healthy, walking the dog three times a day and on no medication.

The mum of two, from Runcorn, Cheshire, worked in admin and sales for an engineering firm, and was mother to Neve Hayter, 22, and Lee Barker 29. Neve said her mother’s nature was to “always put others before herself”.

Speaking to Liverpool Echo, Neve said: “We feel there’s not enough awareness. None of us knew she had an aneurysm and none of us knew what it’s like, it was like ‘where the hell has this come from? It’s important.

“My mum had no past medical history, she took no tablets, she walked the dog three times a day.”

Emilia Clark talks about her brain haemorrhage at 22

Joanne had registered for organ donation, with her heart donated to a woman in her 60s in need of an “urgent transplant”, while her kidneys went to two men in their 30s, potentially saving three lives in all.

Joanne’s family hope sharing their experience will encourage others who may have any early warning symptoms of a possible aneurysm to seek medical help.

Neve, a trainee nurse, said aneurysm symptoms can be difficult to spot as they can overlap with other conditions, such as “feeling under the weather”.

Others can be more pronounced, such as visual disturbance, pain near the eye, weakness or numbness on one side of the face, loss of balance, difficulty speaking, and headaches.

Neve said: “If you have persistent headaches push for an MRI or be referred to The Walton Centre. Don’t sit there and be fobbed off with painkillers. We’ve all been referred to The Walton Centre now.

“Even if someone just had a scan, it could potentially save someone’s life, even if it’s one person.”

Remembering her mum during life, Neve said: “She put everyone else before herself, and she had a heart of gold, and for her funeral we took donations for Mind because she tried to help a lot of people with mental health, she’s done a lot for them.”

A group of 22 relatives, friends and well-wishers will be completing a walk up Snowdon next July in her memory in aid of The Brain Charity in Liverpool.

To support the climb and find out more information, visit the “Brain Aneurysm Awareness“ fundraiser’s page at justgiving.com

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