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Wallabies legend 'dodged a bullet'


Phil Lutton

Wallabies great Michael Lynagh (left) and his father Ian at the Royal Brisbane hospital yesterday.

Wallabies great Michael Lynagh (left) and his father Ian at the Royal Brisbane hospital yesterday. Photo: AAP

MICHAEL Lynagh was having a quiet drink with school friends in Brisbane when he laughed at an old war story and choked innocuously into his beer. When he opened his eyes, he couldn't see.

That moment was the start of a life-or-death sequence for the Wallaby great, who was yesterday released from hospital after suffering a rare stroke that stood a very real chance of claiming his life.

The 48-year-old was showing few signs of his ordeal as he spoke to the media at the Royal Brisbane Hospital. But he has lost almost half of the sight in his left eye and faces a long recovery after his brush with death.

Lynagh recounted the frightening events that unfolded during a visit to Brisbane to see old friends and play golf before returning to his home in London.

Doctors yesterday did little to play down the severity of Lynagh's stroke, which they said can be fatal.

After catching up with friends at a Brisbane pub, a humorous story resulted in Lynagh coughing on a gulp of light beer and laughing at the same time.

''When I finished that, I opened my eyes and couldn't see. I could see light and shapes and couldn't focus. I tried to shake my head and clear it and it got worse,'' Lynagh said. ''I was aware of what was going on around me. One of my schoolmates asked if I should call an ambulance. I said, 'I think so, I think we better'.

''It was fairly scary but I had communication and thought and speech. Luckily Dr Rob Henderson was on call when I came in. I went to the ICU and was in there for six or seven days. I was jet lagged, I was tired and had a pretty severe stroke.

''It's been a tough couple of weeks. I'm pleased to be here. I'm pleased to be standing here in front of you today. It's not an insignificant thing that happened to me. As Rob said to me, 'You didn't just dodge a bullet, you dodged a bloody great big cannonball'.''

Henderson, who has been treating Lynagh, said there were worrying signs after his arrival at hospital as medical staff tried to reduce swelling in the back of his brain. ''Certainly there was a time we wouldn't have thought this was quite possible. He split the wall in an artery in the back of the right side of the neck,'' Henderson said.

''The back part of the right side of his brain has had a stroke, affecting that left side of his vision. He blocked off another artery that controls a really important part of your balance and information centre. Most people with that degree of stroke wouldn't be walking for two weeks.

''People die with that stroke where they block that artery. We notice it more in young people. Michael's not a guy who's had the typical risk factors for a stroke.

''We've seen people before not make it from that type of stroke. The worst-case scenario was that he wouldn't survive.''

Lynagh has lost 45 per cent of the vision in his left eye, although that will gradually improve. At the moment, he can't drive but is learning to negotiate his way around on foot.

''I've lost quite a bit of sight. My actual eyes are fine, but my brain has been damaged in certain places. About 45 per cent of my sight to the left I don't have. I'm hopeful over time that will improve. Already I see quite a bit of difference,'' Lynagh said.

Henderson said there was no evidence Lynagh's long rugby career had any factor in causing the stroke.

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
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SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
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AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00Leicester City Stadium
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
NZL 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs ARG 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
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WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
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WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 3 3 0 0 97 13
Wales 3 3 0 0 58 13
England 3 1 2 0 1 6
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 3 0 3 0 -139 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 3 2 1 0 40 10
Japan 3 2 1 0 -12 8
Samoa 3 1 2 0 -52 4
USA 3 0 3 0 -96 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 3 2 1 0 64 10
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 3 0 3 0 -59 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 3 3 0 0 84 14
France 3 3 0 0 72 14
Italy 3 1 2 0 -24 5
Romania 3 1 2 0 -59 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
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