The Gift of Life

After saving Olga Cooke's life when she collapsed in Blackpool town centre several years ago, nurse Laura Linden did not see Olga again until the family traced her and invited her as guest of honour at Olga's 80th birthday party.  PIC BY ROB LOCK'25-1-2013
After saving Olga Cooke's life when she collapsed in Blackpool town centre several years ago, nurse Laura Linden did not see Olga again until the family traced her and invited her as guest of honour at Olga's 80th birthday party. PIC BY ROB LOCK'25-1-2013
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WHEN Olga Cooke celebrated her 80th birthday, she had a very special guest present.

The woman who made the event possible in the first place – by saving her life.

Nearly five years ago, when Mrs Cooke was out shopping, she collapsed in Blackpool town centre and suffered a heart attack.

The North Shore great-grandmother-of-three was lucky though, because at that very moment, a trainee nurse was passing by, who came to her aid.

Laura Linden leapt into action and performed CPR on Mrs Cooke until the ambulance arrived.

Mrs Cooke had to spend nine weeks in hospital and underwent a triple bypass, but she never forget the young lifesaver who had helped her.

She said: “I saw Laura once afterwards in the hospital, but wanted to really say thank you to her properly.

“With my 80th birthday coming up, I thought it would be a nice idea to invite her and eventually managed to find out where she was working now.

“I was so happy to see her again.

“She was over the moon I’d got in touch.

“What she did for me just shows you there are still some good, kind people around.

“I am so grateful for what she did for me that day.

“So I decided to make her guest of honour at my 80th party.”

Laura, 28, who also lives in North Shore, said: “It was brilliant to see Olga again and to see her looking so well, celebrating her 80th birthday.

“I couldn’t believe it when she rang me out of the blue to invite me to her birthday party. I was so pleased.

“Olga is such a lovely lady, I’m so glad it was her life I saved.

“I can still remember really clearly what happened.

“I was working on the delivery suite at the time and finished work at three, so I went into town. I had been in Abindgon Street Market to talk to someone about hair extensions, but they said I’d have to come back later – that must have been fate, because I stepped outside and heard Olga fall.

“I ran over – with what I call my Baywatch run – and checked her pulse and found there was no pulse and no breathing.

“I knew I had to give her CPR, so I started straight away with the cardiac massage and then mouth-to-mouth.

“It felt like a lifetime, but then the paramedics arrived and we worked on her and got her into the ambulance.

“They were lovely and told my friend I’d saved her life.

“I was in shock so I went to the pub to have a sugary drink.

“And no word of a lie, as I walked into the bar, that song by The Fray, ‘How to Save a Life’ was playing.

“I think my training just kicked in and adrenalin at the time it happened.

“It’s great knowing it made the difference for Olga and seeing her now looking so fantastic.

“Especially when you look at the statistics of how many people survive cardiac arrest outside of hospital.

“And she is fantastic for 80. She doesn’t look it and she’s still so active. I’m glad I was passing by.”