Atul Rao, an Indian-American student currently studying in London, has made the life-changing decision to pursue a career in medicine, inspired by the dedicated healthcare professionals of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) who saved his life after his heart stopped six times in a few hours.
Rao, who is originally from Seattle and a student at Baylor University in Texas, faced a critical health crisis when he developed a blood clot in his lungs, leading to a condition known as pulmonary embolism. This condition obstructed blood flow through his heart, causing him to experience cardiac arrest.
Rao, 21, went into a cardiac arrest on July 27. Paramedics successfully revived his heart and took him to the heart attack center at Hammersmith Hospital. Hospital staff tirelessly labored throughout the night to sustain Rao’s life and stabilize his condition. However, his heart ceased beating on five additional occasions within the initial 24 hours before clot-dissolving medications started to take effect.
Recently, Rao returned to the hospital with his parents to express his deep gratitude.
“Before this happened, I was starting to wonder if I was doing the right thing studying medicine and whether I should consider a career in business instead,” Rao conveyed to the NHS medical staff during his visit last month.
“But the minute I woke up, I knew. I want to use my time in a productive way. I want to use my second chance at life by helping others,” he added.
“The last time I saw Atul, I didn’t think he was going to survive. To meet him again and speak with his parents after giving them such terrible news was a very special moment in my 18 years in this job,” Nick Sillett, a paramedic with the ambulance service, said.
Atul’s father, Ajay, employed at a software company in the US, vividly recalled his anguished flight to London upon learning that decisions were being made that could determine his son’s fate.
“I’m not exaggerating; Hammersmith and St Thomas’ hospitals have become places of worship for us. We will be coming here whenever we come to London. It was the heroic efforts of London Ambulance Service, the amazing medical teams of Hammersmith, St Thomas’, and Royal Brompton that saved him from this life-threatening series of events,” he said.
Mother Srividhya, a mathematics professor in Seattle, added, “A really bad thing happened in a really good place. Everyone who worked around Atul wanted him to be well. It’s clear they love and care about what they do.”
(With inputs from agencies)

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