Two years ago, Elizabeth Marks was in a coma. The sergeant in the Army was on tour in Iraq when she sustained bilateral hip injuries, forcing her to undergo four surgeries. As a result, she can’t feel anything in her left leg, for which she took up swimming as a form of rehabilitation. She has been stunningly successful as a swimmer, ranked number one in the world by the International Paralympics Committee in the 100-meter breaststroke. In 2014, she was set to compete in the Invictus Games in the United Kingdom when she became seriously ill with a lung condition. She was placed into a coma and almost died. And it was this that Marks had in mind when she gave her gold medal back to Prince Harry this week after winning the 100-meter freestyle swim.
According to Marks, doctors at Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire saved her life in 2014. She was in London, and doctors from Papworth traveled to her in order to put her on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) life support. She was on life support for 10 days and woke up in Germany with no idea what had happened.
So this year, when she competed at the Invictus Games, she knew she wanted to do something special for the people who had done so much for her. Marks won every event she competed in and gave her gold medal to Prince Harry to present to the team at Papworth Hospital. The medical director at Papworth, Dr. Roger Hall, couldn’t be more thankful of Marks’ generosity, either. “The team here at Papworth is extremely proud to hear that Elizabeth has asked to donate her medal to Papworth. This is extremely generous and unexpected. Our pioneering and innovating ethos allows us to offer some of the U.K.’s most advanced treatment for heart and lung disease, and this news will mean a lot to all the staff at Papworth who work tirelessly to provide the very best care possible to our patients,” he said.”Elizabeth’s fantastic achievement is a good example of how modern medicine can support all of us to not only lead a normal life following life-threatening conditions, but go on to achieve truly amazing accomplishments.”