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Norwich couple celebrate eight years after plane stroke

Norwich couple Eddie and Jeannie Pleban have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, eight years after Eddie suffered a major brain stem stoke on a plane flying back from Australia and was given just 48 hours to live. Keith Morris reports.

In 2011, Eddie was taken straight from the plane and hospitalised in Dubai, where doctors told Jeannie he had only 48 hours to live “barring a miracle”.

She said: “On February 6, 2011, I believed my earthly relationship with Eddie, and life as I knew it, was at an end. Family and friends worldwide gathered in support and prayer. However, God had other ideas. He granted that miracle and Eddie survived, only to regain consciousness and find he was completely paralysed and only able to move his eyelids.”

EddieJeanniePlebanGoldenWeddinHe spent nine days in ICU in Dubai and then was returned to the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital by Leah jet accompanied by a doctor and nurse and then spent a further eight months in the hospital and in Caroline House before returning home in September 2011 in a wheelchair.

In July 2012, Eddie carried the Olympic torch at Sandringham and walked a few steps. In July 2013, with a team around him, he climbed the last 500 metres of Mam Tor in Derbyshire, taking three hours rather than the usual 20 minutes and raising funds for Different Strokes a charity assisting younger stroke survivors to regain their lives.

Eddie has been a coordinator of a local Different Strokes group since 2012 for younger stroke survivors in Norwich, which has grown from five members to 20 plus. He regularly speaks to medical students about brain stem stroke and has spoken at regional conferences and training days for medical staff.

Jeannie said: “Today we still grieve for things we have lost but celebrate what we have. Eddie doesn’t drive anymore but gets around in a motorised wheelchair. He can’t walk up mountains, ski or camp out in the snow. But we swim, travel and have returned a number of times to Australia to visit our daughter and grand-children.

Best of all, on December 7, 2018, with family and friends around us, we celebrated 50 years of marriage, a day that in February 2011 none of us believed we would ever see. On February 6 we then met with family and friends to thank God for his goodness towards us.”

Eddie said: “I want people to know that ‘there is life after a stroke and my experience is that it is good.”

In October, the incorrigible Eddie is planning to visit Norway to see the Northern Lights and fulfil a lifelong ambition to walk on Arctic ice.

“Looking back over the last eight years it would be true to say that life has not always been a bed of roses,” said Jeannie. “Members of our family have been, and are still, going through trials and tribulations. But every day is a bonus, whatever it brings.
“To some it may seem a strange thing to say, but I don’t believe our life would be as rich, in every way, as it is now, had we not been through what we did in 2011. God knows what He is doing.”

Read our previous articles about Eddie Pleban.

Pictured above, Eddie and Jeannie Pleban cutting a 50th wedding anniversary cake and, top, celebrating with their family in Australia.

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