Professional musician Jane Gaskell was found lying face down and unconscious in the water during a diving training course.
“I was technically dead when they pulled me out,” she said.
But amazingly, the circumstances that surround what she describes as “the incident” meant that she survived and has made a full recovery.
“It sounds strange, but I was in the right place at the right time. Staff at the diving centre are all first aid trained and there is a defibrillator on site. The air ambulance attended and I was taken to hospital in 12 minutes,” she explained.
Jane was on the second day of open water diving training at the UK’s national diving centre in Stoney Cove, Leicestershire in March 2016 when her heart stopped as she made her ascent from a 12 metre dive.
Unbeknown to her at the time, she had a virus which attacked her heart. “I must emphasise it was bad luck and absolutely nothing to do with diving,” she said.
As soon as she was out of the water, fellow divers and Stoney Cove crew started to give her CPR. This was carried on by paramedics and air ambulance crew for a total of 23 minutes and the defibrillator was used SEVEN times in an attempt to get her heart beating again.
After four days lying unconscious in the intensive care unit at Leicester Royal Infirmary, Jane woke up and to the great relief of her family, who had been on a bedside vigil since her arrival at the hospital, she immediately laughed at a joke.
Doctors had warned her parents beforehand that they couldn’t predict what Jane’s condition would be when – or even if – she regained consciousness and whether or not she would be able to play her beloved bassoon as a member of the BBC Concert Orchestra.
Jane said: “It’s a miracle that I survived. To have technically died and lived to tell the tale and return to work is incredibly lucky. It’s made me appreciate life more and live for the day.”
In total Jane spent three weeks in hospital, transferring to Leicester General before returning to her home in Preston Bissett near Buckingham.
There were loud cheers when she returned to work as fellow musicians in the orchestra had been told that she may never play with them again.
“My colleagues, family and friends are exceptionally grateful to The Air Ambulance Service and all their hard work in caring for me and not giving up hope in trying to restart my heart. I really appreciate everything the fantastic crew did for me.
“There are 60 people in the orchestra and we are like a family. I told them about how vital the air ambulance was to my survival and that it only operates due to charitable donations so we had a collection which raised £750.”
Since returning to work, Jane has performed at many BBC events including The Proms, The Sports Personality of the Year Show and Friday Night is Music Night.
She loves her job and says it is thanks to the swift response of the local air ambulance that she has reached the milestone of being a member of the BBC Concert Orchestra for 25 years.
She said: “To celebrate my partner and I are going on holiday to Thailand, but I won’t be diving!”.