TRY convincing Angela Black there is much wrong with our beloved National Health Service and you will have a job on your hands.
The former Chester bank worker had a kidney transplant before she was 30, had twins born at 29 weeks, was then diagnosed with breast cancer, has lost three inches in height through osteoporosis and has a permanently inflamed right arm caused by illness and drugs.
But the doughty mum is alive and well and living a happy life in Meadowsway, Upton, with partner Dan Haslam and their two boys. And according to Angela it is largely thanks to the expertise of clinicians working for the NHS.
Angela, 45, is a member of 38 Degrees, a ‘people-powered’ non-political lobby in support of the national Save the NHS campaign. She and other people from the Chester area have handed in a copy of a national petition signed by hundreds of thousands of people to city MP Stephen Mosley backing the NHS and opposing changes proposed in the controversial Health and Social Care Bill 2011.
Angela’s particular health journey started when she was 24. She went for a routine check while at university in Wolverhampton studying history and politics and was diagnosed with failing kidneys.
“I was doing what students do, enjoying myself, and it came as quite a shock. I was really upset but was quite resilient too,” she said.
Her kidneys slowly deteriorated and in June 1994 she went on dialysis but an anonymous donor was found and a few days after her 29th birthday she underwent a transplant at the Royal Liverpool Hospital.
After a few months she was in tip-top health and she has been told her kidneys should be good for 25 years.
In April 1995 she went back to work at MBNA on Chester Business Park and she was in good health for more than a decade.
She and long-term partner Dan, 39, an insurance broker based in Bebington, Wirral – the couple met during Freshers Week in 1990 – had been trying for a baby without success for some time.
They decided on a holiday of a lifetime in South Africa to celebrate Angela’s 40th birthday before opting for fertility treatment. But there was no need.
Angela returned home from a fantastic break and discovered she was pregnant – with twins.
The pregnancy was “fairly stressful”, said Angela, and it was feared twin Charlie had Down’s Syndrome. That proved not to be the case.
Nevertheless Angela was suffering from high blood pressure. Doctors at Liverpool Women’s Hospital were concerned. They had told Angela she could go home for the weekend but after that she would be in hospital for the duration of the pregnancy.
Charlie had been in trouble from 26 weeks, then he and brother Alex both began to stabilise until problems developed with Alex’s cord at 29 weeks.
In the end there was an emergency Caesarean section and Charles Richard (Charlie) Haslam was born on May 19, 2006, at 3.10pm weighing just 2lb 10oz,
followed two minutes later by Alexander James Haslam tipping the scales at 2lb
Charlie was in neo-natal care at Liverpool and the Countess of Chester Hospital for 86 days and Charlie for 58 days before being allowed home.
Five years later both are happy pupils at Upton Heath Primary School after spending early years at Headstart Nursery in Upton. Charlie is deaf in one ear and Alex has learning difficulties but otherwise they are fit, well and happy.
Angela went back to work a MBNA manager in 2007 and the boys were looked after during the day by their grandparents, Hoole Labour councillor Alex Black and wife Janet, formerly Labour members for College Ward on the old city council.
In 2009 Angela found a cyst on her left arm only to be diagnosed with right breast cancer and had surgery three days before her 44th birthday. But she has survived to tell the tale.
Angela, whose brother Richard, 48, lives in Broughton and works for NHS Direct, said: “The boys are beautiful. Life is wonderful. We have had the happiest and saddest of times.
“You just look at this one family and all the NHS has done for us. I do not want to look forward 10 years and find this type of service is not available.”
Since the handover of the petition at the Unionist Buildings in Nicholas Street, Chester, changes to the proposed NHS legislation have been made by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, but as far as Angela is concerned: “This is still a very dangerous Bill.”