Brian Whelan was more than 650 kilometres away from the nearest neurologist when he suffered a stroke.
The 79-year-old from the NSW Northern Rivers region was rushed to Lismore Base Hospital, where doctors consulted a Central Coast-based specialist about the clot in his brain.
Thanks to a collaborative effort between local hospital staff and the brain doctor from Gosford, Mr Whelan survived.
"They saved my life," he said on Tuesday.
"My wife says if I hadn't got the treatment I did, I would have ended up in a nursing home - or not here at all."
Mr Whelan is one of 3000 rural Australians who owe their life to an innovative stroke treatment service in NSW.
With roughly one Australian suffering a stroke every 15 minutes, stroke is one of Australia's biggest killers and a leading cause of disability.
Regional Health Minister Bronnie Taylor says the Telestroke Service, which spans 23 NSW hospitals, has turbo-charged stroke diagnosis and treatment.
"Telestroke has been an absolute game-changer with, in the majority of cases, patients being seen and treated faster in our regional hospitals than they would be in metro areas," Ms Taylor said.
Telestroke's medical director Ken Butcher says that by connecting patients, local doctors and specialists through video consultation, the $21.7 million government service has helped bridge the geographical barriers to treating stroke in remote areas.
"Our clinicians can deliver better outcomes for patients exhibiting signs of stroke by harnessing this cutting-edge technology, irrespective of location," Professor Butcher said.
Mr Whelan is grateful for the local hospital staff who helped treat his brain clot.
Since recovering, he has returned to spending time with his family and playing golf.
Australian Associated Press
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