Kate was sadly born with six holes in her heart, but didn’t find this out until she had a stroke at age 39 and then suffered a variety of serious and life threatening conditions such as Ventricular Tachycardia (racing heart beat), Atrial Fibrillation (which causes the heart to beat irregularly causing tiredness, dizziness and shortness of breath), as well as Ventricular Fibrillation (where the heart goes into spasm and stops beating ). The severity of the symptoms of these conditions resulted in Kate having several collapses and blackouts. Between 2006 and 2013, Kate describes having being airlifted from Bude “on numerous occasions” due to the life threatening nature of her condition.
Kate describes the Air Ambulance crews all being amazing along with genius cardiac surgeons at Bristol Heart Institution attached to the Bristol Royal Infirmary, who all worked together and saved her life.
Kate explains, “My heart had to be rebuilt, by firstly having four operations to insert devices to attempt to close the holes in the Atrial Septum; the wall of tissue that separates the two top chambers of the heart, and a number of ablations to try to stop the electrical short circuits.”
Eventually, in June 2013, Kate thankfully had full open heart surgery, where surgeons cut out all the devices and her Atrial Septum and rebuilt a new one from her pericardium, the membrane surrounding her heart.
Coincidentaly, Kate’s son, Sam, was also airlifted to Derriford Hospital after sustaining a neck injury playing rugby when he was 9. On that occasion, Kate was able to travel with Sam and saw the inside of the Air Ambulance as a parent rather than patient.
Kate said, “I am so appreciative of the crews who played such a major part in helping me so much during those ten years and also for helping Sam. I am now working on my stamina levels which are building slowly and once feeling sufficiently fit, I would love to become a volunteer for the Devon Air Ambulance.”
We were delighted that Kate was able to visit our Eaglescott Airbase last October to say thank you in person.