A woman who bounced back from a serious car crash and a heart defect has been called a “woman of steel” by the charity which she says saved her life.
Laura Reid, 24, from Hartlepool, says her life was saved by the North East Air Ambulance after was driving to work when she came off the road and hit a tree in September 2014.
The roof of her car had to be cut off in order for her to be freed and she suffered serious chest injuries in the accident, including seven fractured ribs and a punctured lung.
The helicopter flew its doctor-led trauma team to the scene and Laura was given treatment at the roadside before being airlifted to James Cook University Hospital.
Laura was in hospital for 10 days, seven of which were spent in the high dependency unit where doctors could closely monitor her condition - and now she’s planning to do the Great North Run to raise cash and say thank you.
Speaking about her ordeal, she said: “My organs took a bit of a battering.
“I can’t really remember much about the accident, however, I recovered well and I was back at work within seven weeks.”
About a year after the accident, Laura, a diagnostic radiographer at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, took the decision to improve on her health and fitness, but this brought to attention a further health issue.
“After a session at the gym I was suffering from chest pains so I went to A&E,” she said.
“I had a scan at James Cook and they found that my heart was massively enlarged.”
Laura was then told by medics that she had an atrial septal defect, commonly known as a hole in the heart.
“It was too big to leave so I went to Freeman Hospital in Newcastle where I had open heart surgery,” she said.
“I felt brilliantly afterwards.
“Beforehand, I didn’t think I had any symptoms to indicate that I had a heart problem but now I realise that it’s not natural to get out of breath so easily.
“My heart rate used to be sky high but now it’s normal.”
She added: “I have some really good training sessions but some days I just think ‘how on earth am I going to do this?’
“I’m a mixture between anxious and really excited about it, but I hope it will be an unbelievable experience.
“GNAAS saved my life, they are an incredible service and this is my way of paying them back, whilst ticking something off my bucket list.”
Jim Entwistle, GNAAS spokesman, said: “Having lived through what she has, Laura would be forgiven for sitting at home and wrapping herself in cotton wool.
“Instead, she’s out there training for a half marathon.
“Laura is a woman of steel and we are honoured to have her as a supporter.”