A student whose heart stopped six times in a few hours has thanked the NHS doctors, nurses and paramedics who saved his life and pledged to use his “second chance” to follow in their footsteps.
Atul Rao, 21, a US citizen, was studying at Imperial College London in Du Cane Road, Hammersmith, when a blood clot in his lungs stopped the blood flow through his heart and caused him to go into cardiac arrest on July 27.
Paramedics were able to get his heart beating again and they took him to Hammersmith Hospital’s heart attack centre, also in Du Cane Road.
Staff at the hospital worked through the night to keep Mr Rao alive and stabilise him, but his heart stopped another five times in that first 24 hours before clot-busting drugs began to work.
Mr Rao made a remarkable recovery over the next two weeks and was discharged from St Thomas’ Hospital in Southwark.
Earlier this month Mr Rao, from Seattle, visited Hammersmith Hospital with his mother, Srividhya Rao and father, Ajay Rao.
Mrs Rao, a maths teacher, said: “A really bad thing happened in a really good place. Everyone who worked around Atul wanted him to be well.
“It’s clear they love and care about what they do. I feel blessed to be here and I’m so thankful and grateful to you for giving my son back to me.
“His life has changed, and it’s had a profound impact.”
Mr Rao – who is in his final year of a medical degree – said before his cardiac arrest, he had begun to have doubts about his original career choice.
He said: “I was starting to wonder if I was doing the right thing doing medicine and whether I should be going into business instead.
“But the minute I woke up I knew. I want to use my second chance at life by helping others.”
Doctor Louit Thakuria, critical care consultant at Hammersmith Hospital, said: “It’s not often you see 20-year-olds have a cardiac arrest and it’s even more rare to see someone who has had six cardiac arrests in one day make such a miraculous recovery.
“This was a real team effort and so many people helped ensure Atul was able to be here. It’s a privilege to be a part of that and hear that you have helped make such a positive impact.”
Now that Mr Rao has recovered from his cardiac arrests, he is having tests to investigate the underlying cause for the formation of this dangerous blood clot in the lungs. Once doctors agreed it was safe, he was allowed to return home to the US.
Pictured top: Atul Rao with his mother, father and hospital staff at Hammersmith Hospital earlier this month (Picture: Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust)
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