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More FM star’s terrifying brush with death

Christchurch radio star Lana Searle is lucky to be alive after a medical mishap.

By Kelly Bertrand
As a proud Kiwi, More FM radio host Lana Searle prides herself on her can-do, “she’ll be right” outlook. But it was this attitude that nearly cost the Christchurch broadcaster her life.
Speaking to the Weekly two weeks after emerging from hospital, where she endured seven blood transfusions and stayed 10 days, the co-host of the drive show with Jason Gunn (47) says she’s finally feeling better.
She’s still shaken at what very nearly happened, though, and it all started with a simple contraceptive prescription.
“I went and saw my doctor and she suggested going on the Pill for hormonal reasons,” Lana (29) begins.
Lana Searle and More FM co-host, Jason Gunn.
“I’d never been on it before and I thought, ‘Okay, why not?’
"I started taking it and I began to feel pretty average. I thought it was the adjustment period when you start a new medication.”
But her general unwell feeling – as well as massive mood swings – didn’t go away and people around Lana began to ask if she was okay. Still, she assumed all would be fine until her leg began to ache. That was when alarm bells started to sound in her head.
“I’d had blood clots before, but I hadn’t been warned of any links between the Pill and clots, so I looked online and thought, ‘Oh, geez.’ I stopped taking the Pill, but a few days later, I still had the clot in my leg.”
From previous experience, Lana knew to take an aspirin to help thin out her blood – but that’s where things took a dangerous, devastating turn. Within 24 hours, Lana’s condition went downhill fast, with her partner remarking she looked like a zombie.
Still, Lana thought all was okay.
“Then I got a really bad blood nose. In hindsight – and this is a story of hindsight, really – it was actually very bad. I used the whole pack of toilet paper! And then the next night, I was at home in bed, and got up to go to the bathroom and I collapsed and hit my head. No-one was home. Because I knocked my head, I lost more blood. At that point, I thought, ‘This is not good.’”
When she came to, Lana called an ambulance and was rushed to hospital.
“It was all drama,” she says with a wry smile. “It was my first time in an ambulance! But I still felt like I shouldn’t have been in one. My worst fear was that they’d tell me to go home. I’d hate to waste people’s time. It’s just that typical Kiwi thing.”
Of course, she was admitted and when her doctors checked her haemoglobin levels, they got a huge shock.
“They were at 71, and the lowest they should be is 120,” Lana explains. “They needed the bleeding to stop, so they needed to clot my blood – but because I get blood clots, it was all very complicated! Basically, the Pill reacted with my blood badly, then I took the aspirin, which made me have the excessive blood loss.”
In reality, Lana was three hours away from death.
“A nurse told me later that if I’d fallen back to sleep after I hit my head, or I didn’t come in for any reason, I wouldn’t have been able to come back from that.”
To make matters even more complicated, Lana just so happens to have the rarest blood type – AB positive, which caused her a little panic when she saw that one of her seven blood transfusions was from a bag marked O – the universal blood type.
“I asked them to triple-check if it was okay!” she says, laughing. “They were wheeling me around and treating me like a bit of a celeb, going, ‘Look! She’s AB positive!’ But it means nothing when you’ve got no blood!”
Spending 10 days in hospital in two separate visits – Lana tried to be stubborn and go back to work in the middle – she’s happy to report she’s on the mend and is back at work full-time.
“Jason’s been really lovely, he even came to visit me in hospital and he hates blood – he faints at the sight of it,” she says with a giggle. “He did pick the worst time to visit; I had a double transfusion going... He was as white as a ghost!”
While Lana knows she had a lucky escape, she wishes she hadn’t been so stubborn about going to the doctor. She is now making sure others learn from her story – and imploring them to donate blood.
“Thank God people had donated – as soon as I’m allowed to, I’ll be giving my blood,” she nods. “You feel better as soon as it goes in.
“And, you know, thinking it would be all okay was almost the end of me. So please, just go to the doctor!”
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