‘Inspiring’ woman who carried artificial heart in a rucksack dies

The family of a British woman who carried an artificial heart in a rucksack has paid tribute following her death.

A woman who carried an artificial heart in a rucksack after her own was removed has died from transplant complications.

Rebecca Henderson, 24, from Bicester.
A woman who carried an artificial heart in a rucksack after her own was removed has died from transplant complications. Rebecca Henderson, 24, from Bicester.

Rebecca Henderson, 24, was given the artificial heart after her own had to be removed due to cancer in 2017.

The Oxordshire resident went on to have an operation to receive a new heart after being cancer free for a year, but died due to transplant complications, her family and friends have said.

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Ms Henderson had returned to study at Oxford in October, bringing the 7kg artificial heart with her.

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Her mother Linda tweeted of her death: “We’re going to miss our amazing, wonderful daughter.

“She touched so many lives and lived her life to the fullest. She was also my best friend and I’m going to love and miss her forever.”

Dr Janina Ramerez, an Oxford academic, said on Instagram her friend died on Wednesday. She wrote: “She lived for over a year with a total artificial heart and sadly the operation that was due to give her a new one took her.

“She was just the strongest, bravest person I’ve ever met. Think of her today. Do something brave and strong to remember her.” Ms Henderson, from Bicester, had been finishing a masters at Oxford University. She was reported to have died at Harefield Hospital in London.

St Anne’s College in Oxford, where she was studying, released a statement following her death.

It said: “Becca completed a BA in English and modern languages at St Anne’s College between 2013 and 2017.

“A talented and enthusiastic student, she was accepted by the University of Oxford for a masters in English ...

“During her studies she fell ill with sepsis and whilst in hospital was diagnosed with cancer of the heart.

“She defied the odds, undergoing surgery and returning to her studies last year after receiving a total artificial heart.”

The statement said Ms Henderson was placed on the heart transplant list in January and received a new heart last month at Harefield Hospital.

It added: “Tragically after her surgery she suffered a series of complications that she could not recover from.

“Becca inspired us all with her unwavering determination to pursue her studies and her contagious enthusiasm for college life”

Mrs Henderson’s tutors described her as a “true scholar”.