LOOKING BACK: Nurse Melissa Allsopp looks at her chest x-ray from four years ago showing a severe pneumonia infection.
LOOKING BACK: Nurse Melissa Allsopp looks at her chest x-ray from four years ago showing a severe pneumonia infection.

From near death to nurse

A KINGSCLIFF woman who was resuscitated on an operating table at the Tweed Heads Hospital following birth complications has returned four years later to work alongside the same staff who saved her life.

Kingscliff resident Melissa Allsopp was 32 weeks pregnant in 2014 when she developed a severe influenza infection which saw her rushed to the Tweed Heads Hospital.

A lack of oxygen in her blood meant she was close to having a heart attack when doctors placed her under anaesthetic and performed an emergency caesarian to save her baby.

Following the C-section, Tweed Heads staff had to resuscitate Mrs Allsopp and placed her on life-support until a retrieval team from Sydney flew her down to St Vincent's, where she was placed on a machine which re-oxygenated her blood for six weeks.

Following her ordeal, she was told by her family and friends about the incredible support the nurses and doctors had provided to her at the Tweed Hospital.

This inspired her to study for a bachelor's degree in nursing at Southern Cross University.

"This whole experience brought me to nursing, it was really the amazing care that I received, so many special nurses touched our lives and it's nice to be able to repay that to the community," she said.

"I just felt drawn to nursing after everything that happened and wanted to help other people as well."

Exactly four years to the day of the episode, Mrs Allsopp was reunited with the staff who saved her life when her final work placement started at the Tweed Heads Hospital intensive care unit.


Melissa with staff who resuscitated her in Tweed ICU.
Mrs Allsopp working with some of the Tweed Hospital staff who saved her life.

"It was actually quite surreal to be able to work alongside some of the nurses who cared for me. I'd only received reports from family about how amazing they were for me while I was in an ICU bed there," she said.

"To work alongside them was a real honour and they do an amazing job."

Mrs Allsopp said she was lucky to survive after experiencing first-hand how much the Tweed Heads Hospital is struggling to cope with a growing population.

"In my time I was working at the hospital, you see the dire need for a bigger hospital. It can't service the volume of people coming through," she said.

"I feel really lucky at the time I presented to the hospital that I could get the care I needed, but if the community keeps growing we need a bigger space to care for those people and I'm really lucky I came in on a day there was tremendous staff on who were ready to help me."

Tweed Hospital intensive care unit director Dr Mike Lindley-Jones said he was "stunned" to find out it was Mrs Allsopp he had resuscitated four years earlier.

"I did not recognise her, people look very different when they are sick. I did, however, notice a very keen and competent student nurse and I told her she seemed to have an aptitude for ICU and she should consider a career in the speciality," he said.

"It was then that she told me I had resuscitated her four years earlier.

"I was amazed, stunned and overjoyed."


Mrs Allsopp is now looking to find a full-time job in nursing, "preferably in the Tweed".