Nurse takes the plunge to thank hospital for life-saving treatment

Monday 21 May 2018

Alison Cooper wearing clown nose during St Thomas' abseil

A nurse has abseiled 160 feet down the side of the hospital where she works to thank teams there for saving her life.

Alison Cooper, 52, from Canary Wharf in east London, abseiled down the side of St Thomas’ Hospital on Friday 11 May, to raise money for Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

She decided to take on the challenge to thank teams at the Trust for treating her after she became seriously ill with a bowel obstruction 15 months ago.

Alison, who has worked as a site nurse practitioner at Guy’s and St Thomas’ for over four years, went to the Emergency Department (A&E) at St Thomas’ Hospital after she became unwell during her shift there on Christmas Day 2016.

Alison was diagnosed with a bowel obstruction, a blockage in the intestines which can be life threatening if not treated in time.

On Boxing Day 2016 Alison had emergency surgery, known as a laparotomy, led by Mr Johnathan Hubbard, general surgeon at Guys’ and St Thomas’, to correct the problem.

She spent two weeks recovering from the surgery on Page Ward, one of the gastro-intestinal wards at St Thomas’, and was able to return to work in March 2017.

Alison, who trained as a nurse over 30 years ago, said: “I know how serious a bowel obstruction can be so I’m really thankful that I was treated in good time. Recovering from my surgery was tough. Initially I wasn’t allowed any food or fluids and I couldn't get around unaided, but the nurses and doctors who looked after me were fantastic.

“They went out of their way to make me feel comfortable, and their kindness and compassion really helped me to come to terms with what had happened. I really can’t thank them enough. Because I work here I was already aware of the wonderful work of the hard-working doctors and nurses at the Trust, but it was great to experience the first-rate care we provide to patients for myself.”

Alison added: "The abseil is my way of saying thank you to the amazing staff who looked after me and giving back to Guy’s and St Thomas’. I felt a mixture of excitement and apprehension before the abseil, but it was exhilarating going down, and taking in the views of Big Ben and the London Eye. I feel really proud of myself, and it was fantastic being able to raise money for a great cause."

Dr Jonathan Hubbard said: “I’m delighted that Alison has made a full recovery, and that she has chosen to raise vital funds for Guy’s and St Thomas’. We really appreciate this fantastic support, which feels extra special as Alison is a member of staff. A bowel obstruction can cause serious life threatening complications, which is why emergency surgery is often required to treat it, so it is lovely to know that Alison is now well enough to be taking on challenges like the abseil.”

Over 200 staff and supporters took part in the St Thomas’ Abseil, which has raised £135,000. The money raised will support all of areas of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

Visit Alison's fundraising page

Last updated: May 2018

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