Sela: A Wake Up Call

Thousands of people in the Pasifika community know Sela Alo as the fun-loving host of Flava radio’s Wake Up Call morning show. But what they probably don’t know is that the popular radio star is also a stroke survivor.



“I’m all good now, but it could have been worse – a lot worse,” Sela says.


Now Sela wants to send out his own special Wake Up Call - a Wake Up Call to Pasifika communities to learn about stroke and a life-saving message called FAST.


“FAST stands for Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty – Take action, call 111,” Sela says.


“FAST teaches you the main signs of a stroke and that by taking action you can help someone make the best recovery – or even save their life.


“It could be your life, or one of your family or friends – you need to know what to do.”


Stroke is a big problem in New Zealand. Every hour, another person has a stroke – and many of them are in Pasifika communities.


A stroke is a brain attack – the symptoms might show in the face, arm or speech, but it’s actually the brain that’s affected. If someone shows any of the signs of stroke, the quicker they get to hospital, the better their chances of recovering – that’s why FAST is so important.


And Sela should know – fast action helped him recover from his own stroke.


The day had started like many others for Sela – in the radio studio, preparing to go on air.


“We had these old-fashioned phones with four lines. I took a phone call and I could hear the other person talking, but I couldn’t say anything,” Sela says.


“I put the phone down, and then I couldn’t pick it back up. My co-host said something to me and I couldn’t talk back.


“I was thinking, ‘what the hell is going on here?’”


In fact, Sela was showing two of the most common signs of stroke covered by FAST – speech difficulty and arm weakness.


Sela had what’s called a TIA, or warning stroke. The symptoms disappear quickly, but it’s a sign there’s a high risk a much more serious stroke is coming soon.




“I seemed to come right, and I didn’t know what to do,” Sela says.


But luckily his wife did, and made him get medical attention right away.


In hospital, Sela was put on blood-thinning medication to help keep him safe from another, potentially devastating, stroke.


“My wife’s intervention made the difference. Without it, the doctor said things could have been much worse.”


So as Sela knows, it’s very important to call 111 if someone is showing any of the stroke symptoms covered by FAST, even if they don’t last long.


Strokes are usually caused by a clot stopping blood going to the brain. But if a stroke patient gets to hospital quickly the clot can be dissolved or even removed.


“It’s really important to know you can recover very well, if you take FAST action,” Sela says.


At the time, Sela knew very little about strokes. But he quickly found out that a stroke can happen to anyone, at any age.


“I was in my thirties, I never smoked, I worked out and was healthy - and I had a stroke,” he says.


“But there are things you can do to help yourself not have a stroke. Pacific communities are on the wrong side of a lot of stats about smoking, diabetes, obesity, which can increase the risk of a stroke.


“And my message to everyone is, please don’t make yourself a target for a stroke.”


In the meantime, the married father of three wants everyone to learn FAST.


“My family is my number one priority. If your family means as much to you, look after yourself and them.”

Look out for Sela on Instagram at @selaalo and @flavaradio


And for more information on stroke, visit: