John’s courage awarded

John O'Dowd is a finalist for the National Stroke Awards' courage award. (Ivan Kemp) 403861_01

By Jena Carr

A Drysdale man is a finalist in the Stroke Foundation’s National Stroke Awards for his courage after surviving a stroke last year.

John O’Dowd, 57, is one of three finalists for the courage award after he walked out of rehabilitation after three weeks to attend his mother’s funeral after suffering a stroke on March 20, 2023.

Mr O’Dowd said he was surprised to be nominated for the award following an act to honour his mother.

“It’s a bit of an honour because there’s a lot of people going through a lot worse than me, so it’s a bit overwhelming to be in that position,” he said.

“Late one night, I was in bed and wanted to get up, but I couldn’t get out of bed as I had no strength and thought something was wrong.

“My wife heard me tossing and turning and couldn’t work out what was wrong, so she called an ambulance as she thought it was a stroke because I was slurring my words.”

Mr O’Dowd said he encouraged anyone who may have survived a stroke or know someone who has never to give up.

“Don’t give up and keep trying because, in my view, there’s always somebody worse off…and keep trying as you just don’t know what’s around the corner,” he said.

“I’ve never been exposed to strokes or people with a stroke, so I wasn’t very well educated on that sort of thing, and it was all very new to me and quite daunting.

“The support around you also makes a big difference because it’s the little things every day that are so hard. You don’t think they’re going to be too hard, but they are really hard.”

Stroke Foundation chief executive Dr Lisa Murphy said Mr O’Dowd had shown immense courage during his stroke recovery.

“He overcame major emotional and physical challenges to be able to attend his mother’s funeral which would’ve been a tough moment for him,” she said.

New South Wales’ Rebecca Schmidt-Lachlan and Queensland’s Michael Denehy are also finalists for the courage award.