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Coventry Professor reflects on his “second chance at life” on anniversary of being treated by local air ambulance

Coventry Professor reflects on his “second chance at life” on anniversary of being treated by local air ambulance

Three years ago on 12 August, Coventry University professor Ralph Kenna was put into an induced coma by the crew of the local air ambulance who went to his assistance when he had a cardiac arrest in the street near his home in Rugby.

Passers-by gave him CPR before Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance arrived at the scene.

“Not a day goes by when I don’t think about what happened. I was given a second chance at life and I survived against the odds,” he says.

Ralph (55) says he will be forever indebted to everyone who helped him and, to date, he has raised nearly £3,000 for the local air ambulance by taking part in a sponsored half marathon and abseiling event.

“I will do anything I can to help the charity that saved my life. If it wasn’t for people giving donations to keep the helicopters flying then I would not have survived,” he says.

The air ambulance critical care doctor and paramedic put Ralph into an induced coma at the scene to give him the best chance of his heart and brain being able to recover and repair. This reduces the risk of long term or permanent side effects in the hope that the patient can make a full recovery.

The crew then accompanied him in the land ambulance to University Hospital Coventry & Warwickshire.

Ralph was in a coma for four days and spent seven weeks in hospital. He lost his memory, which took a while to come back, and it was six months before he was well enough to make a phased return to work.

He says he has always valued life but having survived the cardiac arrest as a result of being helped by a charity and members of the public he “has renewed faith in people that do good.”

“Sometimes when I need strength to get through the battles of everyday life, as we all do occasionally, I remember the strangers that helped me and it steers me through,” he says.

Ralph is using his first-hand experience of being an air ambulance patient to motivate others. He has given an account of what happened to him at a charity fundraising event in Rugby’s Benn Hall and is hoping, after lockdown restrictions are lifted, to speak to medical students at the university where he works.

“The local air ambulance is a charity which receives no government funding for its daily missions, so its very existence relies on each and every one of us. Who knows, your own very existence may one day rely on them,” says Ralph.

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