Back in 2008, Victoria Ganderton was 36 weeks pregnant when she was diagnosed with an aortic dissection. The aorta is one of the body’s major blood vessels and so when doctors diagnosed heavily-pregnant Victoria as having an aortic dissection the doctors had to act quickly. Of all people who have aortic dissections, 50% die before making it to hospital and of those who do make it to hospital, 50% will not recover.

Amazingly, Victoria had been walking around for ten days before she was correctly diagnosed. After the diagnosis she was immediately taken off for an emergency caesarean. Victoria said: “I got to spend ten minutes with my son Jack and husband Leigh before having open heart surgery under the care of the amazing, late Professor Bonser at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.”

The operation was a success and after a long period of recuperation, Victoria was able to return home to her family. Victoria had follow-up surgery in 2013 and final open heart surgery in 2014. During the course of this operation, Victoria’s kidneys failed, her lungs went into respiratory shock, she contracted pneumonia and her heart began to fail.

Victoria’s life was saved thanks to the ECMO machine at QEHB, one of the few hospitals in the UK to have one, which performs the role of the heart and lungs in order to keep the patient alive. Victoria spent a month in a coma and a total of 56 nights in intensive care. This long period of recuperation was made far easier by the staff at the hospital, Victoria said: “There is nowhere in the world where such care and compassion is shown by all staff, from surgeons to nurses to porters and cleaners. They never failed to greet me with a smile and bring a little light to my days.”

Nearly three years on, Victoria’s husband Leigh is taking on the 100-mile Velo Birmingham cycling challenge, the first closed-road cycling race in the area, this September.

Leigh will be cycling for QEHB Charity alongside England cricketing legend Ashley Giles. Both men have been inspired to take part in Velo Birmingham after the treatment that their wives have received at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

Ashley Giles and his wife Stine set up The Giles’ Trust, part of QEHB Charity, after Stine was successfully treated for brain tumours at QEHB on two separate occasions. Stine said: “It is wonderful to see that other people have been motivated to take part in fundraising events after their loved ones have been treated here at QEHB. I wish Leigh all the best for his training and I look forward to seeing him cycling alongside Ashley on the day itself.”

Leigh is busy preparing for the challenge and said: “I’m really looking forward to cycling for QEHB Charity and raising money to support the amazing research and work that goes on at the hospital. The care that they gave Victoria was nothing short of incredible and it’s really nice to give something back.”

Regional law firm FBC Manby Bowdler, which has offices in Wolverhampton, Willenhall, and Shropshire, is the official legal partner of Warwickshire County Cricket Club, where Ashley is Sports Director, and is supporting the cycling event.

Adam Wilson, an Associate in the Serious Injury and Clinical Negligence Team at FBCMB said: “Leigh is a close friend of mine and knowing about his wife’s treatment and the firm’s links with the cricket club, we wanted to sponsor the challenge.

“The treatment that QEHB provides to people in our region and beyond is nothing short of amazing so we’re delighted to support the fundraising effort for the hospital.”

Cathryn Worth, fundraising manager for QEHB Charity said: “Velo Birmingham promises to be a brilliant day and it will be great to know that Leigh and Ashley are there cycling with the other QEHB Charity cyclists. They’ve both got amazing stories to tell and I know that they’re making their wives very proud. Our thanks also go to FBC Manby Bowdler for their support.”