When Sevenoaks mum Lorna Arduino was rushed in to Tunbridge Wells Hospital having developed a life-threatening heart condition, everyone feared the worst.
But a year on and the 46-year-old wowed staff by walking back in to the emergency department, to personally thank some of the people who saved her life.
Mrs Arduino had been walking her dogs on November 14, 2016 when she suddenly collapsed.
When she came to, she couldn’t move but managed to call for help from her mobile phone.
The mum-of-three was rushed to the hospital, in Pembury, where she was seen by A&E Consultant, Dr Angela Feazey, and Emergency Registrar, Dr Megan Purcell-Jones.
They knew immediately that there was something very wrong and referred her for an emergency CT scan, which discovered Mrs Arduino had suffered an aortic dissection – a very serious condition in which the inner layer of the aorta, a large blood vessel branching off the heart, tears.
“Having got through something so serious, I fully intend to go out and live my life – and that’s down to the people I was so lucky to have been treated by when I was brought into the hospital” – Lorna
Blood surges through the tear, causing the inner and middle layers of the aorta to separate. Around one in five patients with an aortic dissection die before they get to hospital and many don’t survive surgery.
A decision was quickly made to transfer Mrs Arduino to King’s College Hospital in London, where she underwent 10 hours of emergency specialist surgery and spent 10 days in a coma. She spent three and a half weeks in ITU and a total of five weeks in hospital.
She said: “Saying thank you will never be enough. It’s absolutely terrifying to be told that you might not see tomorrow but when you’re surrounded by people who are so compassionate and you have total confidence that everything that could be done is being done, it makes a huge difference. They were absolutely amazing.
“I was told by my surgeon at King’s that the reason I am alive is down to the fact that the staff who cared for me at Tunbridge Wells Hospital acted so quickly. I can’t explain how grateful I am.
“My recovery is ongoing but I can walk, swim and take part in gentle exercise, although I get tired easily and have to make sure that I rest regularly and keep my blood pressure down.
“Having got through something so serious, I fully intend to go out and live my life – and that’s down to the people I was so lucky to have been treated by when I was brought into the hospital last year.”
Dr Feazey said: “It was wonderful for us all to see Lorna. We were absolutely amazed at how well she looks.
“When she came in to us last year, she had gone from being fine to being catastrophically unwell in a matter of hours and we weren’t at all sure that she would survive.
“So often, we treat people but don’t find out what happened to them after they leave our care so to be able to give her a hug and hear from her first-hand meant the world to all of us.”