Kate Laubscher was born with six holes in her heart, but she didn’t find this out until she had a stroke at age 39 when she 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 a number of occasions due to the life-threatening nature of her condition.

Kate describes the Air Ambulance crews as being amazing along with the genius cardiac surgeons at Bristol Heart Institution, which is attached to the Bristol Royal Infirmary - all the personnel who worked together and saved her life.

“My heart had to be rebuilt," says Kate, "In the first four operations I needed devices to be inserted 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.”

Thankfully, in June 2013, Kate 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.

Kate's not the only member of her family to have called upon Devon Air Ambulance however. 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.

“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 I feel sufficiently fit, I would love to become a volunteer for the Devon Air Ambulance,” says Kate.

We were delighted that Kate was able to visit our Eaglescott Airbase last October to say thank you to the crew.

Because of patient confidentiality we only hear from around 15% of our patients, so if you have experience of having been one of our patients we'd love to hear from you. It's stories like yours that help our messages to be heard by future supporters.