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Toowoomba teenager thanks LifeFlight for service in the South West

Former LifeFlight patient and Toowoomba teenager Connor Sharpe will show his gratitude to RACQ LifeFlight Rescue at an event tonight celebrating 10 years of saving lives in the Toowoomba and South West region.

The talented teenage musician will entertain LifeFlight’s founding members at a private function at the Clive Berghofer LifeFlight Centre - his way of thanking the people who made the rescue helicopter service a reality a decade ago.

The Year 12 student doesn’t remember the heart attack that almost claimed his life during a rugby league training match nor does he remember being airlifted by the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter. But it’s a day Connor’s mother Wendy Sharpe will never forget.

In September 2015, Wendy watched her 15-year-old son suddenly collapse and stop breathing from what doctors now know to be Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy or an enlarged heart muscle.

“You don’t realise how precious life is. We had one of the fittest kids. It is unfathomable and unbelievable,” said Wendy.

“He literally died on that football field. I thought we’d lost him.”

Fortunately Connor’s coach Jason Brookes recalled the CPR skills he had learnt at school and revived the teenager. He kept Connor breathing until paramedics arrived.

The RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter later urgently airlifted him from Toowoomba Hospital to the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital for specialist care.

“LifeFlight kept him alive, they probably used every machine they had on the chopper,” said Wendy.

“They are angels. Connor wouldn’t be here without them.”

Since the accident, Connor’s passion for the saxophone has flourished. Under doctor’s orders he can no longer play the contact sport he loves and has instead thrown himself into music.

“I feel both lucky and unlucky. I have always been dedicated to my saxophone, but since the accident I now play about two to three hours a day when I can,” said Connor.

“I really want to study at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music next year and learn more.”

The cheeky teenager is also hoping tonight’s LifeFlight function will bring him more opportunities to share his musical talent with the Toowoomba region and beyond.

“I am really looking forward to playing tonight. Hopefully I’ll get a few more gigs out of it,” said Connor.

LifeFlight’s General Manager of Fundraising Leanne Angel said this evening’s private event was a special opportunity to thank the people who had made the Toowoomba based RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter possible 10 years ago.

 “With the help of Clive Berghofer, along with a group of local businesses we called the Darling Downs Dozen, we were able to establish the Clive Berghofer LifeFlight Centre,” said Mrs Angel.

“This is our opportunity to thank our founders and supporters for helping us make a difference to the lives of so many people.”

In 2015-16, LifeFlight flew a record 1,864 missions from all of its Queensland community helicopter rescue bases, a 32% increase on 2014-15. The Toowoomba RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter was one of the busiest in the state with a record year of 551 lifesaving missions.