By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s game night for the Stich family, even though someone is missing.

“My kids … they don’t get to have their dad,” Patti Stitch said.

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A month ago, her husband Paul Stitch told her he was having pain in his left leg before they left on a family trip to a water park.

“I didn’t really think anything of it,” Patti Stitch said.

When they got to the park, Paul Stitch had trouble breathing and collapsed. He was taken to a hospital and died just two hours later from a pulmonary embolism.

“I said, ‘Is he dead?’ And she goes, ‘Yeah.’ I just kept screaming that they told me it was an anxiety attack. I just kept telling them, ‘What the heck happened?'” Patti Stitch said.

Dr. Michael Hu, a vascular surgeon at Hennepin County Medical Center, says pulmonary embolisms happen when blood clots in major veins break off and travel — then block off the lungs.

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“It can happen to anyone,” Hu said. “Common risk factors include immobility, either from plane travel, car travel, immobility in the hospital after a big operation.”

Paul Stitch was a truck driver for 20 years.

Hu said blood clots can go unnoticed for their often generic symptoms.

“You can have some pain or Charley horse-type pain, you can have some swelling, you can have some discoloration,” Hu said.

Patti Stitch is hoping her family’s loss could educate others to save a life.

“When he was saying how his leg hurt, you know, I just should’ve just, just should have made him go, I just should of,” she said. “Make sure you take your precautions and you say it could happen because I thought we’d be together forever.”

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If you think you have symptoms of a blood clot, you should immediately go to an emergency room. If you’d like to donate to help the Stich family, click here.

Kate Raddatz