Oxford MailFrom radio presenter to saving baby's life (From Oxford Mail)

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From radio presenter to saving baby's life

Oxford Mail: Shabina Akhtar Shabina Akhtar

A FORMER BBC Radio Oxford breakfast presenter has helped save a newborn baby’s life in her new career as a 999 operator.

Shabina Akhtar, 38, gave lifesaving phone advice to a frantic couple whose baby had stopped breathing.

Hampshire parents Beata and Andrzej Kolon dialled 999 when three-day-old daughter Leokadia experienced breathing difficulties.

They got through to Mrs Akhtar in South Central Ambulance Service’s (SCAS) Bicester control room, where she faced a race against time.

After Leokadia’s father said she had stopped breathing, Mrs Akhtar relayed resuscitation instructions for Mrs Kolon.

Mrs Akhtar – who changed careers after being personally touched by the good work of the NHS – said: “Then the baby started crying.

“You can’t understand what a huge relief that was.”

Despite only joining the service last year, the former breakfast and afternoon presenter said she knew she had to keep a cool head.

She said: “Being on air and dealing with politicians and high profile people, you are filling hours and hours of time with next to no information.

“Because I am used to that, when you do get people who panic you remain quite calm.”

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Mrs Akhtar, from Mollington, near Banbury, said: “The only thing I was focused on was getting the baby breathing.

“Later, when I came off the call, I thought ‘oh my God’. It hit me afterwards.”

Mrs Akhtar, mum to Isabelle, three, and Amelia, eight, said: “Any call involving a child I find emotionally affects me far more than any call I take. With Isabelle being so tiny, you are so cautious, you listen to their breathing. I can relate to all of it quite clearly.”

She said: “Rarely calls are life and death, and this was life and death. You think ‘if I do nothing else in this job, that is not bad going’.”

Mrs Akhtar was a regular voice on Radio Oxford from 2006 to 2009, when she left to care for her mother, Mumtaz, 67, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The former Five Live and Radio 1 presenter said seeing the care the NHS gave her mother, who died in 2010, led her on an altogether different career path.

She said: “I thought I wanted to do something where I can give a little bit back. When you have been through something like that, your perspective on life changes.”

Leokadia was given oxygen by paramedics and suffered two more respiratory arrests, at the scene and en route to Southampton General Hospital, where she spent three days in its high dependency unit last month. She is now happily back home with her parents.

In a statement the family, who live in Chandlers Ford near Southampton, said: “We are absolutely amazed with the support we were provided with by the NHS.”

SCAS spokesman James Keating-Wilkes said they were delighted Shabina had been able to use her knowledge to help.

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