DIALLING 999 last year, Alexandra Williams didn’t know if her husband would survive.

But thanks to surgeons, anaesthetists, doctors, nurses, porters and an army of other behind-the-scenes staff, he pulled through.

Nick Williams was rushed to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Headington on February 12 last year with an aortic dissection. His main blood vessel, the aorta – which pumps blood around the body – was coming apart from his heart.

Without urgent surgery he would die, and even with surgery there was still a one in five chance he would die.

But more than a year after the risky operation the dad-of-two, 58, is back to work as the owner of Holloway’s auctioneers in Banbury.

Mrs Williams is nominating the Cardiothoracic Critical Care Unit team as her Hospital Heroes for their care.

The 47-year-old said: “The difficult thing now is picking a person or even a team because it was everybody.

“From the very moment we arrived at the JR, we were looked after with the utmost care. It cannot be easy breaking serious news of this kind to a mother with two young teenagers.

“The dedication of the nurses was unbelievable. They gave Nick the care he needed and let me sit with him through most of the day.

“I was never turned away or told it wasn’t a good time. It was very upsetting for our two daughters. But again the nursing staff were especially kind, reassuring them that it was OK to carry on living, to be angry, hurt and have whatever teenage moods hit them.”

The couple and their daughters Molly, 16, and Augusta, 14, are settling back into life in Thenford, near Banbury. Mrs Williams added: “He gets a bit tired sometimes but when you think about what he has gone through that is a small price to pay.

“But I know I could never have got through that period without the incredible staff in that unit.”

Mrs Williams  is aiming to raise £50,000 for the Oxford Heart Centre's Heartfelt Appeal and is organising an art auction on September 14. Call 01865 743444 for more details.

The new Hospital Heroes awards were announced earlier this month by the Oxford Mail and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, giving Oxfordshire residents the chance to thank those who have helped them.

Only staff employed by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust are eligible for nomination by September 30.

The Oxford Mail will feature shortlisted nominations in the autumn and winners will be announced at the Oxford University Hospitals’ annual staff awards in November.


  • To nominate by post write your name, address, date of birth, telephone number and email address above the person or team you would like to nominate with a 250-word paragraph on why you have nominated them.
  • Send it to Oxford Mail Hospital Heroes, c/o Communications Office, Level 3, John Radcliffe Hospital, Headley Way, Oxford OX3 9DU.
  • Or to nominate online go to http://oxfordmail.co.uk/news/hospitalheroes