A cabin crew member who ‘died’ multiple times on the operating table after suffering a brain bleed has had to learn how to walk, talk, read and write again.
Jade Henderson collapsed on a night out when her heart stopped beating before being put into a medically-induced coma, but just over a year later is already back at work.
And the 23-year-old is even finding time to volunteer for the NHS as a thank you to those who saved her life.
She was found to have been unknowingly living with an arteriovernous malformation (AVM) her entire life after suddenly falling ill in November 2019.
The rare condition disrupts blood flow and oxygen circulation.
Jade, from Hartlepool, County Durham, was in a coma for 10 days, during which time she suffered a stroke and had to be resuscitated twice.
She also had to be rushed back into surgery to have part of her skull removed.
“I was so poorly and when I came out of it, I didn’t even know what day it was,” she said.
“I was completely disorientated. I thought it was 2016.”
But incredibly, Jade is already back working as an airline cabin crew member and volunteer at a North East hospital in a scheme called Operation Wingman.
She said: “I’ve been helping out in the coronavirus vaccine clinic at Queen Elizabeth in Gateshead, supporting doctors and nurses as much I can between flying.
“They are all so exhausted because of the pandemic.
“I wanted to give something back to the NHS after everything it’s done for me.
“The staff saved my life and work so hard to support patients like me.
“You can see how tired the doctors and nurses are and it gives you a lump in your throat.
“It’s surreal that people don’t believe the pandemic is real.”
Throughout her recovery, Jade has had to undergo various surgical procedures and has worked hard with her medical team to regain memories lost because of her stroke.
“I’ve had half of my skull removed, and replaced with titanium. It’s amazing technology but it’s a weird feeling – you get constant brain freeze.
“The side of my brain impacted means that I’ve lost both short term and long term memories, and my speech has been affected too,” she said.
“When I first came out of hospital it was prominently slurred, but I’ve been progressing fast.”
When asked what the most rewarding moment of recovery has been, Jade said it was learning to work her phone again.
“It was a great moment, because before I had to rely on my friends to read my text messages.
“As soon as I was able to reply myself, I thought this is amazing – I’ve cracked it! It also felt great being able to log onto my emails and see all the supportive messages people had sent me.”
In September 2020, Jade travelled to Sheffield to receive gamma knife radiation treatment.
This involved using small rays to deliver a precise dose of radiation to her remaining AVM’s.
However, a recent scan found that the blood vessel in Jade’s brain is actually getting thicker: “Sadly, this means the treatment I had hasn’t worked.
“I now have to have another scan, which is an internal angiogram, and another round of surgery to try and shrink the blood vessel.
“I hope it’ll be gamma knife radiation again rather than brain surgery. I’m really looking for good news at the moment.”
Currently her condition is stable day to day, and when she’s not juggling volunteering and working, she is keen to raise awareness of her rare medical issue.
“I encourage anyone who feels that something isn’t right to get checked out as soon as possible” she said.
“If you have migraines or eye sight problems such as blurred vision, go and seek advice from a professional. It might just save your life.”