Stroke on a plane

Mark’s story


Mark had his stroke thousands of feet in the air.


A stroke is frightening experience for many people – imagine having one thousands of metres in the air. Wellington businessman Mark Corbitt had a stroke while flying from Sydney to Wellington. “Scariest experience of my life,” he says.

“My speech and face were affected, and my body was affected down one side – the classic signs. I had total awareness but couldn’t do anything about it. That was the worst part.”

The stroke was a total surprise. Mark was fit, rode his bike regularly, never smoked in his life, moderate drinker, and looked after himself.

Passengers, including a nurse, came to his aid and comforted him until the plane landed. On arrival in Wellington Mark was flown to hospital where he had at least a dozen more strokes. He underwent CT scans and was given thrombolysis.

Incredibly, he left hospital three or four days later. Now he’s back working, bike riding, and at the gym. The only evidence of the stroke is that he sometimes gets a bit of left-side weakness after lifting weights.

Mark reckons his diet had a lot to do with his stroke. A lot of red meat and animal fats – so much so it was a bit of a joke in his family. He’s now almost completely vegan and reckons he’s way healthier for it.

Mark has become a strong advocate of the FAST campaign, working with the Stroke Foundation on articles in The Dominion Post.

“Just because you’re fit doesn’t mean you’re not going to have a stroke,” he told the newspaper. “Know your FAST and then you know the symptoms.”

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