Patient Story -
Healthy mother-of-three never expected to suffer a heart attack at 49
Jackie Rogers’s heart attack was completely out of the blue, she never expected to need our lifesaving care. Thankfully, CareFlight was there to help Jackie in her darkest hour.
Jackie was just 49 and in good health while driving along the highway with kids Maddie, 12 and Ammon, 10, in the car when out of nowhere, Jackie felt an excruciating pain radiate up her back.
“I initially thought it was a damaged disc from an accident a few weeks’ back, so I pulled over to get comfortable and relieve the pain,” she said.
But it only got worse. As the pain spread to her chest and throughout her body, Jackie’s instincts as a nurse told her something was seriously wrong.
Jackie’s aorta, the main artery in her heart, had torn and blood was pooling in her chest.
Although she was vomiting from extreme pain, Jackie somehow managed to drive to a nearby service station for help.
“When we pulled in, I turned to Maddie and said, ‘run as fast as you can and call Mummy an ambulance’.”
“The look on their faces was really traumatic for me. You never want your kids to witness their own Mum fighting for her life.”
As Paramedics loaded Jackie into the ambulance, she saw something that still haunts her to this day.
“My son went up to the Paramedic and begged him, ‘please don’t let my Mum die’.”
After tests at a local hospital revealed the life-threatening aortic dissection, a helicopter was called to transport Jackie to specialised cardiac treatment... But no-one would have guessed this would would be the first of three traumatic and lifesaving airlifts.
“I was only 49 at the time with no signs or symptoms, so it was completely unexpected. When your aorta dissects, you don’t normally survive it. Let alone survive it three times.”
Jackie’s second brush with death came in 2010 when she felt the familiar agonising pain. Taking no chances, she presented to hospital and RACQ CareFlight Rescue was immediately called in with a Critical Care Doctor on board to fly her to a specialist health facility.
“The CareFlight crew told me they had to fly at a low altitude and I was terrified my aorta would burst mid-flight. This would mean I’d die, leaving my young family without a mum.”
The third airlift came in January 2015 when Jackie experienced the terrifying pains of the same life-threatening heart condition. CareFlight was called in once again to airlift Jackie to emergency medical care.
“Each time I have been airlifted, my family were terrified it may be the last time they saw me alive,” she said.
“I’m so grateful CareFlight and their skilled medical crew was available to get me to optimum care.”
Knowing how close she’d come to death - not one but three times - Jackie says her experiences have had positive and negative impacts on her life. She had to retire from her 28 year career as a Mental Health Nurse and her children are much more overprotective of their Mum.
“Both my two youngest children still have some issues associated with watching me fight for my life at the service station. But considering what I’ve been through since 2008, I’m certainly doing well,” she said.
“I got to see my eldest son Andrew get married last year which I didn’t think I’d be alive to see.”
Jackie says CareFlight means so much to her and her family.
“If it wasn’t for CareFlight, I simply wouldn’t be here today. My kids wouldn’t have their Mum.”