Main Navigation Links
The doctor who saved the life of a rugby sevens fan while dressed as the movie fish Nemo has been honoured with an award by Mayor Kerry Prendergast.
Laura Kwan received a Safety in the City certificate and citation in a brief ceremony before the Wellington City Council meeting in the Council Chamber on Wednesday evening, August 25.
The man she saved, bus driver Wallace Rameka, was present for the ceremony and made a moving speech in which he thanked Laura and the surgical and medical team which treated him.
Wallace – dressed as a Mexican, with sombrero and drawn-on moustache – was on the walkway approaching Westpac Stadium for day two of the Sevens on Saturday 6 February when he suffered a massive heart attack.
Laura, dressed as Nemo, was hurrying to see her native England play in the tournament when she saw Wallace. She performed CPR and used a defibrillator brought by stadium staff to restart Wallace’s heart.
He was taken to Wellington Hospital where he underwent quadruple bypass surgery. He has made a full recovery and is shortly due to return to work for the first time since his illness.
Mr Rameka said the award was "awesome". "Who's more deserving than Laura?"
Since having heart surgery a week after the attack, he had been making an effort to get fit. "I've been ... doing a bit of swimming and took part in the Wellington [Round The Bays] marathon – I did the 10km walk."
Dr Kwan said she was "absolutely shocked" by the award. "It's almost accepted on behalf of not just myself but the medical professionals as a whole, who do this thing day in, day out."
Making the presentation, Mayor Prendergast said: "This is a wonderful story which illustrates the importance of having the right person in the right place at the right time. Even in a Nemo outfit, a cool head can save lives.
"It is also a great Wellingtonian story – anywhere else, a fish resuscitating a Mexican on a summer’s afternoon might seem a little odd."
The presentation to Laura, a house officer in anaesthesia at Wellington Hospital, was due to have been made at the main Safety in the City award ceremony on September 30. It was brought forward because Laura is shortly leaving to do voluntary work in a medical aid station in the Himalayas.
"It seems she can’t help helping people," Mayor Prendergast said.