THE NHS comes in for its fair share of criticism - for everything from its failure to fund IVF or expensive new cancer drugs to red tape, inefficiency and medical mistakes. Then along comes a story which reminds you just what an amazing institution it can be.
When Emma Keef walked into York Hospital 35 weeks pregnant she had no idea that within just a few hours she would be fighting for her life.
She’d been suffering from chest pains - and a medical student who checked her blood pressure couldn’t believe how high it was.
It turned out she had a rare form of pre-eclampsia - a life-threatening condition which was causing her kidney and liver to fail and pushing her blood pressure sky-high. When midwives realised her unborn baby Annabel’s heart had stopped beating, Emma was rushed into surgery.
Annabel was delivered safely – but Emma’s placenta became detached. For 24 hours she couldn’t see her daughter because she was too ill – and for five days she was kept in intensive care because medics feared she might stop breathing in her sleep.
That was two years ago. Mother and daughter are now both healthy and happy – but Emma knows but for the amazing care of midwives, nurses and doctors she may not have been here today. “The fact that we both came out of it alive is amazing,” she said.
Now Emma has set herself the challenge of running the York marathon to raise money for York Labour Ward and the Special Care Baby Unit.
It is the best way she can think of to say thanks to the medical staff who saved her and Annabel’s life.
And her story is the perfect reminder of why, for all its faults, we should never forget how lucky we are to have the NHS.