‘Didn’t recognise myself’ Dancing on Ices Alex Murphy opens up on suffering stroke at 24

Alex Murphy shows off her ice skating skills in montage

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Alex Murphy, 32, has spoken of the terrifying moment where she collapsed and couldn’t speak or feel her arms after performing during a skating stint on a cruise ship. The star found out she had a condition called patent foramen ovale (PFO), also known as a hole in the heart, which led to her suffering from a stroke when she was in her 20s.

“I knew something was wrong the moment I stepped off the ice and tried to hang up my costume,” she shared with Metro.

“I couldn’t lift my right arm – I thought that’s funny – then I couldn’t untie my skates or feel my foot. I had no idea what it was and felt like I was having a weird out of body experience. 

“I started banging my hands on the sink to see if I could put life into them. I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognise myself – I didn’t know I was Alex.”

Due to Alex being young and healthy, doctors were baffled as to what had caused the stroke.

After lots of tests, medical professionals in Miami discovered she had a condition called patent foramen ovale (PFO), also known as a hole in the heart, which led to a blood clot on her brain.

She was then faced with having to decide on whether to give up her skating career forever.

Alex was told she could either take blood thinners for life, but would have to hang up her skates as she could risk bleeding out from an accident, or have an operation to repair the heart defect.

She asked to have the operation right away – as she had received an offer to take part in Dancing on Ice in the Netherlands.

The performer went on to win the show, just three months later, after recovering in Florida from her procedure.

Recalling the moment, she told: “I could still skate but interviews were difficult. I would struggle if there was too much noise – the lights and sounds of the show could be difficult. To be honest, though, that show had a massive impact on my recovery.”

Competing in the series, let alone winning, was a massive achievement, seeing as she had to relearn how to talk and write after the stroke.

She still has the side effects from her stroke – which include her sometimes having to read things over and over again and struggling to concentrate.

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The dancing personality – whose father also suffered a stroke due to PFO in 2014 –  takes an aspirin a day and told how she had been “ashamed” to speak about her stroke when appearing on the English version of Dancing on Ice because she “didn’t want people to know” about her heart problem.

Alex shared last year that she was devastated after her Dancing on Ice contract was not renewed.

She wrote in a statement on Instagram: “It is with a heavy heart that I release the following statement.

“For the last three years, Dancing on Ice has not only been my job but also what I considered to be my family.

“I am broken-hearted to announced that I have recently been informed that I will not be re-contracted for the Dancing on Ice 2021 series.(sic)

“This decision has come as a huge shock to me. I absolutely love the show and had hoped to go back for 2021. I have been left feeling bewildered, lost, and devastated.”

The new series of Dancing on Ice will feature stars from the worlds of pop music, sport, and soap operas, and will see Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby return as presenters.

Back on the judging panel will be Ashley Banjo, Jayne Torvill, and Christopher Dean, but John Barrowman, who joined the judging panel in 2019, will not be part of the new series.

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