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Press Release - 08 December 2008

Student graduates after heart failure

A student at the University of Bath will graduate at this week’s winter award ceremonies, despite collapsing earlier in the year with a heart attack.

Philip Au collapsed in March at the finishing line of the Bath Half Marathon, needing resuscitation, but has gone on to complete his degree in mathematics and computing, delaying his graduation by just five months.

The 22 year-old, who had no previous history of heart problems, spent one month in Bath’s Royal United Hospital before being transferred to Southampton General Hospital for major heart surgery and a further three-month stay.

Mr Au returned to Bath to sit his exams through special arrangements made by the Department of Mathematical Sciences and was allowed to complete his final year project in Computer Science while being cared for at his family home in Holywell, North Wales.

“It was all so unexpected,” said Mr Au. “It was my third half marathon but by rights I shouldn’t be here anymore. If it had happened anywhere but the finishing line I wouldn’t have been saved in time.”

“I’m sad not to graduate with my friends but it will still be a proud occasion for me and my family. I treasure everything now.”

Mr Au says that it was his love of the University and the City of Bath that gave him the motivation to continue his studies in hospital.

“I realised that life is full of surprise and challenges and this was just one of them. What is important is that time is precious. I was determined that I would finish what I started.”

“With the support of my friends and family I was able to get hold of myself and try to revise in hospital the best I could, despite all the medical tests and procedures I was going through.”

He has also praised his University department for helping him to achieve his degree.

Professor Davenport, Director of Studies in Computer Science, commented: “Clearly the principal credit for Philip’s success rests with him, and the hard work he put in under the circumstances. But I am very impressed with the way the whole community supported his recovery: his housemates who took him his laptop in hospital; the e-learning team who specially extracted his material from University computer systems; the University post room who took the memory stick to the RUH; and the internal and external examiners who examined his project specially.”

Philip is continuing his recuperation with his family and coming to terms with the changes in lifestyle enforced by his heart condition. He hopes to go on to build a career in accounting.

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