Video: ‘Locked-in’ syndrome woman’s passion for life

Britain’s longest survivor of locked-in syndrome has used her first television interview to tell of her passion for life.

Please accept preferences cookies to view this content.

Christine Waddell, from County Durham, has had the syndrome – which leaves sufferers conscious but paralysed – for 15 years.

She told the BBC’s Look North programme that she has much to live for and hopes for a full recovery.


She also told a national newspaper: “From what I have heard, just about every locked-in survivor wants to die in the early days. But my time was just after I came home and reality hit me about what my life was going to be like.

“You learn to accept it though, and I never think that way now.”

Speaking through her carer to the BBC she said: “Before my stroke I was full of energy. I loved a laugh. I can remember the day I had the stroke like it was yesterday”.


Now she says Facebook and getting in touch with friends has improved her life.

But she is confident that she will recover: “After eight years I noticed my toes moving and I just thought, if that can happen, anything can happen. I have always believed that I will recover just because I totally believe in myself and I really want it”, she said.

Miss Waddell developed the syndrome following a massive stroke in 1997.

Now, with her carer Carol, Miss Waddell communicates using a special system that works by moving her eyes.


Her syndrome is similar to that of Tony Nicklinson – who unsuccessfully campaigned for doctors to be allowed to actively kill him.

Miss Waddell said: “I still think he is right about you being able to end your life, but it’s all down to the individual, how they feel. You just get used to it so it’s just normal for me now”.

Last year it was revealed that a former footballer with locked-in syndrome had landed a job as a talent scout.

Gary Parkinson, who played for Middlesbrough in the 80s and 90s, is again working for his former team.


Deborah, Gary’s wife, described how the scouting set-up works: “A DVD comes down to us, with a sheet of paper. There is a description of the player, his name, his age, his position and the clubs he has played for.”

She then counts slowly from one to four. When she gets to the number he thinks the player should get, with four being the highest, he raises his eyelids.

Related Resources