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Southampton family walking Jurassic Coast in honour of charity that saved their mum’s life

A Southampton family who almost lost their mum and wife Emma when she went in to cardiac arrest are walking 21 miles along the Jurassic Coast to raise money for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance.

On 19 August 2021, when she was at home with her husband James and their middle daughter Lily, Emma had a seizure and went into cardiac arrest. James immediately dialled 999, moved Emma from the sofa and onto the floor of their living room and began CPR.

The family home was suddenly overflowing with emergency service personnel: a community first responder, paramedics from South Central Ambulance Service and a doctor and two specialist paramedics from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance.

Emma was intubated on scene and taken by road to University Hospital Southampton, where she underwent an emergency operation to her heart. Because of the Coronavirus restrictions at the time, James waited outside the hospital until 02.30am, when he was allowed to visit Emma in the Intensive Care Unit.

After two weeks of ‘sheer hell’ for the family, Emma was brought out of her coma and began her long road to recovery.

Emma said: “My life has changed massively. I've gone from working full time, running around after the kids and being very independent, to not being able to work or even drive. I've got a hypoxic brain injury – due to a restriction of oxygen to the brain. But I'm so lucky to be able to be walking, talking and everything else that I’m doing.”

“Even now I sleep with my hand on her to make sure she's still breathing,” says James. “And if I wake up and I'm not sure, I'll just give her a little nudge. It gives you a different perspective of life.”

Emma adds: “I'm well aware of how serious having a cardiac arrest and being in a coma is. The reality is that without the specialist doctors, paramedics and medicine, it would have been a very different outcome for me and my family.”

In May 2022, alongside some friends and family, Kate and Sophie, James is walking from Corfe Castle to Weymouth along the Jurassic Coast to help raise vital funds for the Air Ambulance charity.

James said: “I will forever be grateful they were there in our time of need, and this is my way of giving something back. Every penny helps, and you never know when you might need the Air Ambulance.”

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