Mirror readers pay tribute to NHS on its 70th birthday for saving their lives

Happy 70th Birthday to our beloved NHS. On July 5 1948, Labour Health Secretary Nye Bevan opened the universal service – free for all when they need it – at Park Hospital in Manchester.

It has become part of our national story, something which makes people across these islands enormously proud.

In its first 12 months the NHS budget was £500million. We now spend £145billion. It employs 1.5 million people, making it the sixth biggest employer on the planet.

But the NHS goes way beyond numbers. It is a collection of life-changing stories of nurses and doctors keeping families healthy.

So, to mark the day, we asked Mirror readers to share their stories of what the NHS means to them – and how it has transformed their lives.

Stroke & cancer.. we’re living proof treatment’s first class

In 2013, my husband Les had a couple of seizures.

After the second one, our GP referred us to a consultant who said that he had suffered a mini-stroke. He was prescribed medication and what could have been a major issue was dealt with in a way that meant he could go back to living a happy and healthy life. But we were not done with our health scares.

In 2015 I went for a routine mammogram and was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Within weeks it was organised so that I could have surgery and afterwards 20 radiotherapy sessions. It was a scary experience, but so far so good.

Both my husband and I want to thank everyone involved in treating us with professionalism, kindness and dignity. I wouldn’t be here without it, neither of us would.

  • Mary Edwards, 69, Houghton-le-Spring, Tyne and Wear

Deadly danger of birth for the poor in 1930s

I was born in 1937, 11 years before the NHS, so I know the difference it has made.

It was difficult for ordinary people. In the depression my dad couldn’t get work and my mum was pregnant with me. They couldn’t afford another mouth to feed.

Even worse, when she was nine months pregnant she fell down some steps. She miscarried and lost my twin.

When I was born my mother was weak from hunger and weighed just six and a half stones, barely fit to give birth. We couldn’t afford hospital – the doctor who came had to be paid.

While giving birth my mother was haemorrhaging.

The doctor dumped me aside as they fought to save her life. They did. I was turning blue by the time my Auntie Amelia wrapped me in a blanket to save my life.

The NHS is something we should all be grateful for.

  • Pete Perry, 81, Stevenage, Herts

Terror of moment I feared I had lost Teddy to sepsis

The NHS has given me everything – a career, a passion plus three happy and healthy sons.

But for my youngest son, Teddy, it quite literally saved his life.

When he was just eight weeks old he got sepsis caused by meningitis. He was refusing to feed and screaming.

I took him to the out-of-hours GP who told us not to be too concerned, but we barely slept all night. We saw our GP who sent us straight to A&E.

Teddy was rushed to resuscitation as the hospital called for an emergency pediatric team.

It was the most terrifying moment of my life – my blood ran cold.

For two weeks I never left the hospital, but every day the nurses on the pediatric ward were there.

I owe them so much.

Teddy is three now and is bouncing around laughing and playing like the healthy and happy boy he is.

As a healthcare assistant, I know how hard the NHS can be – but it has given all of us so much and I won’t ever be able to thank it enough.

  • Lucy Sealey, 30, Yeovil, Somerset

Precious years thanks to risky heart op

In June 2004, after a routine blood test, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

I received hormone treatment then radiotherapy. I was told that it was unlikely to return, but it did in 2010.

It left me with few options except to remove my prostate, dangerous on someone my age.

My consultant told me he had only done two and I would be the third – and no guarantees I would make it.

Two years later I was a volunteer at the Olympic games in London. Some 14 years on I am fit – I run, swim, play golf and garden.

An institution founded when I was two has saved my life at least twice. It has given me time with my family.

  • Dennis Woodhams, 72, Wokingham, Berks

Amazing heart experts deserve their award

Without the NHS I would be dead.

In 2014 I was diagnosed with a heart condition which saw me sent to Papworth Hospital for valve replacement surgery.

The doctors there are amazing – I know they won a Mirror NHS award this year for lifesaving research.

The surgery went well and now, despite some asthma, I am alive and well.

But without the surgery, Dr Steven Tsui said I wouldn’t have lived for longer than two years.

I can’t thank the NHS enough for everything it has done for me – and I can’t imagine Britain without it.

  • Pamela Toomey, 69, Huntingdon, Cambs

Hubby saw grandkids thanks to greatest care

The NHS is the greatest institution we’ve got and we should be so proud of it.

My husband Robert was diagnosed with total renal failure aged 50 and his treatment gave us 16 more years together.

He died aged 66 in 2012.

In those years he got to watch his children grow up and see each of his grandchildren born.

Without the NHS we wouldn’t have had that. He went for dialysis three times a week at Sunderland Royal Hospital and the doctors and nurses became like an extended family to us.

They kept treating him – he had two kidney transplants that failed – and you wouldn’t have had that in America.

We all owe our NHS so much.

  • Jan Leach, 70, Houghton-le-Spring, Tyne and Wear

Pay up, Hunt, to reward efforts of our heroes

I was born in 1931 and, at 86, I am old enough to remember those dreadful days before the Labour Party established the NHS.

Over the years I have had dozens of surgeries and treatments.

Some were to heal the hearing I lost as a Royal Marine sniper. I had both knees replaced plus radiotherapy for prostate cancer. My appreciation of the NHS is huge and I just want to offer my immense thanks to all those who work so hard for it.

I just wish that our Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, would invest to pay the staff properly.

  • David Armitage, 86, Exeter

So proud and glad of my lifetime’s work as a nurse

I’ve dedicated my life to the NHS, working as a nurse for 43 years.

Walking through the corridors of Swansea’s Morriston Hospital after visiting a patient it struck me that I was born at this hospital and only survived because of the NHS.

My mum and dad were both born in 1912. My mother had lost four boys due to pre-eclampsia before the NHS was created.

Mum was 42 when I was born in 1954. There were complications again and the only reason we both survived was the NHS.

Years later while working in a butcher’s shop near a hospital the local nurses told me I should apply.

I did, and I’ve worked in the community, with people with learning difficulties and now as a research nurse guiding clinical trials. I have to say I’ve been very lucky to have had the opportunity – I have enjoyed every minute of it.

The NHS has given me my life, a secure job, a pension, a house, three children, a rewarding career, friends from all over the world and a chance to give quality care to patients when they are at their most vulnerable. To be able to treat patients how I would want to be treated myself.

I love the NHS and feel so proud to be able to give something back.

  • Helen Golding, 64, Swansea

Organs trauma grandson is now happy & healthy

When my grandson Harry was born he had a diaphragmatic hernia, meaning his organs were gathered up in his body and one lung was smaller than the other.

He was rushed to Great Ormond Street Hospital for treatment and they saved his life.

He is nine now and, while they warned us he would never be an athlete, he is never done running or swimming. He is such a happy and healthy little boy.

Without the NHS we would have been bankrupted saving his life. I am just so glad we have a healthcare system that is there for everyone when they need it.

  • Jane Smith, 73, Stevenage, Herts

Given my chance because of skills learned in Troubles

When I was born I was three months premature, I weighed less than 2lbs and was clinically dead.

It was only the lifesaving work of the NHS that brought me back to life. What was more remarkable was that this was in 1969, when the mortality rate for premature babies was 95%-plus.

It wouldn’t be the last time the NHS saved me.

Aged seven I was hit by a car. I broke 15 bones across my body including my legs, ribs and pelvis.

My heart stopped. Again it was the NHS that resuscitated me.

Had I not been living in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, I would probably not have lived or never been able to walk again.

But because the surgeons had become so highly skilled from dealing with the Troubles I was able to walk again. I spent a year in the hospital, two years in a wheelchair and three years walking with crutches and calipers. I was 15 when I could walk again unaided.

So twice in my 49 years the NHS has saved me. It is without a doubt our most important public service.

And it gave me my greatest gift – while receiving treatment for early onset arthritis in my 20s I met my ex-wife and we had our son.

So the NHS taught me that in every cloud there is a silver lining.

  • Gareth Gault, 49, Southend-on-Sea, Essex

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