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Mum suffers cardiac arrest but recovers to graduate

Mum suffers cardiac arrest but recovers to graduate Banner Image

Mum-of-two completes her specialist nursing course after heart stops during routine operation

A mum-of-two who suffered a cardiac arrest while on the operating table has this week celebrated graduating from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Gemma Vignali was three months into the community specialist practitioner course when she was told she needed to undergo a routine operation. But things took a drastic turn for the worst while she was in theatre and her heart stopped beating.

The 32-year-old spent eight days recovering in intensive course but amazingly only 10 days after her near death experience she attended UCLan to sit an exam.

The mum of Ellena, four, and two-year-old Ava said: “The experience of this destroyed both me and my family. It was such a shock for us all. I was in a very bad way for a while and I think it was a lot harder for my husband to cope as we have two young children and it was totally out of the blue.

“I don’t really remember much about that time so I’m not sure how I managed to think about my exam, never mind get to University and sit it. I’m stunned I actually managed to pass it however the endless amount of support from UCLan was amazing. I wouldn't have finished the course without their help, in particular my personal tutor Georgina Richie and my practice teacher Wendy Byrne.”

Gemma, from Darwen, completed her nursing undergraduate course at UCLan back in 2010 and returned to undertake the specialist course five years later. She was one of 1,500 graduates who donned a cap and gown at Preston’s Guild Hall and she was watched by her very proud lecturer husband Gianpaolo and her mum.

I was in a very bad way for a while and I think it was a lot harder for my husband to cope as we have two young children and it was totally out of the blue.

The former St Bede’s High School pupil said: “I am absolutely over the moon that I’ve graduated as a community specialist practitioner. I think I’m still in shock after all that happened. It’s been really hard work but I’m so proud I’ve achieved this.”

She added: “I am now eight months into my new post as a district nursing sister so I am still finding my feet.  However, I hope to return to UCLan so I can take the path of teaching others how to fulfil this role.”

Rachel Atkinson | 09 December 2016