SIXTH-form student Natalie Roberts never thought she would get the chance to celebrate exam success.
The 20-year-old from Shotton was told she would be lucky to survive after collapsing with a brain infection – Guillain-Barré syndrome – in May last year.
She lost the ability to move, talk or see and doctors told her that even if she survived there was a possibility she could be paralysed for the rest of her life.
But just one year on, the John Summer’s High School pupil has defied all expectations and was yesterday celebrating top grades in her AS-levels.
She never planned to go to sixth-form, and was just about to start a career as a communications and IT officer with the Royal Navy when she collapsed.
Natalie said: “I felt like I had the flu and I knew something wasn’t right.
“I was diagnosed with glandular fever and took a week’s bed rest.
“When I got up after that I just fell to the floor.”
She was taken to the Countess of Chester Hospital, before being rushed to the Walton Centre in Liverpool for blood transfusions.
Natalie said: “They said there was a chance it was too late and I was told I might not survive and if I did I would be seriously disabled.
“I was having transfusions and I remember talking to one of the doctors then everything went blurry and really loud and there were doctors running everywhere.
“When I woke up they told me my heart had stopped beating.”
She added: “It sounds bad but I hoped I wouldn’t wake up because I thought I would be paralysed.
“I couldn’t do anything, I had 19 years of life and suddenly there was
nothing I could do.
“I wouldn’t have any sort of life and I couldn’t see a positive in that.
“I pulled through and started showing improvements, but I relapsed soon afterwards and had to have more transfusions. On the fifth and final day of my second set of transfusions, I stood up.”
Natalie had been told by doctors she would sometimes feel like she had the ability to stand up, but not to try because she would probably fall and injure herself.
She said: “On that day, I said to my mum it feels totally different but she told me not to try to stand up.
“But when she went to get me a coffee, I pushed myself up on my wheelchair and pushed my wheelchair away.
“It was completely overwhelming, everyone was telling me I would never do that again.”
Just four months after her collapse, having recovered from the rare disorder which affects about one to two people in every 100,000, she decided to return to school after losing her place with the Royal Navy.
And yesterday, she was celebrating after getting an A in English language and a B in English literature.
She is also studying IT, which she will take as an A-level next year.
She said: “The staff and everyone at the school have been brilliant.