A MUM who was rushed to hospital with a rare heart condition wants to thank staff who saved her life.

Sandra Wrathall suffered an aortic dissection in March.

This is when there is a tear in the inner lining of the body’s biggest artery - the aorta. Blood coming from the heart is sent into a false channel.

It is life-threatening with 75 per cent of undiagnosed sufferers dying within 48 hours.

Sandra, 61, said she is alive because of the fast diagnosis by Colchester A&E staff.

Mrs Wrathall, from Colchester, said: “I was at David Lloyd gym with my personal trainer. I felt a tear from the throat to my chest and I fell to the floor.

“I was a nurse many years ago so I knew it wasn’t a heart attack, but it was something serious. The gym called an ambulance and I was taken to Colchester A&E.”

She was lucky enough to be seen quickly by a member of staff who checked her pulse.

They found she had no pulse in her right hand side. She was rushed for a CT scan and was blue-lighted to Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge.

She said: “They said I was going to be dead in 15 minutes. The operation was between eight and ten hours.”

Her upper aorta was repaired and her lower aorta is medically treated, however, she needs CT and MRI scans every six months.

Sandra, who is married to David, said: “It’s pretty life-changing. It’s possible I will need to have major surgery in the future.

“It’s a slow recovery process, I’m trying to build up my strength and stamina.”

She is raising money for hampers to thank hospital staff for their quick thinking. She also wants to raise awareness of aortic dissection and training for first responders.

The mother-of-three and grandmother-of-six said: “September is aortic dissection awareness month.

“I would like to identify everyone at A&E who helped me on that day. We have pledged to make 40 hampers and we have raised money for another ten.

“We would like to raise enough for 70 hampers to mark 70 years of the NHS. With AD it’s all about that first recognition of what is happening. They are the life-savers really.”

To donate visit www.gofundme.com/f/thank-you-colchester-aampe.

Visit thinkaorta.org.