A Great Southern father of five is lucky to be alive after a rare medical emergency left him in an induced coma in a Perth intensive care unit. Craig Morton, 42, is recovering at Fiona Stanley Hospital after suffering an aortic dissection in his Katanning home late last month. Mr Morton’s wife Sarah Worth said it had been a chaotic time for the family. “It is absolutely the worst thing we have ever experienced,” she said. Ms Worth recalled the quick escalation of events on the evening of June 26. “We finished dinner, he said to me ‘babe, my shoulder is a bit sore’ and I was like ‘oh, do you want me to get you some paracetamol?’,” she said. “Within minutes he was on the ground screaming in agony. His chest hurt, his back hurt, his shoulder hurt. “He actually said to me, ‘I am going to die, I need to get to a hospital’.” When he was rushed by one of his sons to Katanning Hospital, it was discovered Mr Morton had an aortic dissection. An aortic dissection is an inner layer tear of the aorta, which is the main vessel carrying blood from the heart. It is very rare, with the US National Library of Medicine estimating there are between five and 30 aortic dissection cases per one million people each year. Within two hours, the Royal Flying Doctor Service flew Mr Morton to Perth. Although Ms Worth knew about the seriousness of an aortic dissection through her work at Katanning Hospital, it was not until she was speaking to doctors at FSH in Perth that she understood the full gravity of the situation. Doctors told her many patients did not even make it to a hospital. Data published by the US National Library of Medicine states the mortality rate for an aortic dissection is close to 50 per cent if it is not treated within the first 48 hours. However, that figure is higher for those who have the acute form of the condition. If patients reach the emergency department, at least 30 per cent will not survive, according to the USNLM. There is still a 20 to 30 per cent fatality rate for those who make it through to surgery. Ms Worth described the days after the emergency as being “absolutely horrific”. “The day after he got there, one of the vascular surgeons came in and said that Craig actually had a very high chance of not surviving the surgery because the tear was so big, so I was a complete mess,” she said. Mr Morton survived the surgery and was in a medically-induced coma for two weeks after medical staff struggled to wake him. He suffered from a number of mini strokes during his time in the coma. However, they were not expected to cause any long-term neurological damage. The aortic dissection also affected his organs, with Mr Morton nearly losing a kidney. While about 75 per cent of all aortic dissections cases occur in those aged between 40 and 70 years old, they are most common between 50 and 65. They are three times more common in men than women, according to the USNLM. High blood pressure is one of the factors behind the condition, but Ms Worth said her husband has had the opposite problem for most of his life. “He doesn’t go to the gym every week but he’s a pretty healthy bloke and they just said, ‘it’s got to be genetic’,” she said. “There are no other factors as to why his blood pressure would have been so high.” Before the scare, Mr Morton was a stay-at-home dad, taking full-time care of the couple’s five-year-old son after Ms Worth returned to work. “He loved it. He said it’s the best job he’s ever had,” she said. Although Mr Morton is now out of his coma, he has a long recovery ahead of him. He is suffering weakness in his left arm due to a blood clot, and will need to monitor his vital organs, including his heart, kidneys and liver. “He tore his aorta, his main blood supplier, so he’s going to have to take it easy for a long, long time,” Ms Morton said. Despite the challenging road ahead, there are a few reasons for the family to smile. Mr Morton has been transferred out of the ICU and was set to move to the vascular ward earlier this week. “When we went around and visited him on Sunday, he was up and walking, and we were like ‘what is happening?’,” Ms Worth said. “He has been so lucky. He honestly knocked on death’s door.” His family is hoping he will be able to return to Katanning next month. The financial impact of the ordeal has also been softened, with a GoFundMe page set up by daughter-in-law Chloe Why raising more than $3000. Ms Worth said the donations would help them cover costs while she was absent from work. “Honestly, we could never ever put it into words just how thankful and grateful we are to have people that care so much, it is very appreciated,” Ms Worth said. “Something like this, as horrible as it is, it brings people together, it really does. “All of our friends, family and work colleagues have just been absolutely amazing.” Ms Worth also expressed her gratitude to the staff from Katanning Health Service, St John WA and the RFDS. “Thank you to everybody, especially the nurses Therese, Neetha and Allison, and Dr Hayder Jumaah,” she said. To donate, visit bit.ly/3cnT0vQ.