A CANCER survivor who owes her life to staff at Worcestershire Royal Hospital has donated a piece of life-saving kit to help others like her.

Diane Cox has donated a £800 suction machine to the Worcester hospital which will help patients with head and neck cancer breathe more easily and be discharged sooner.

The machine drains fluid like mucus from the throat of patients who have had a tracheostomy, allowing them to breathe more freely and can even prevent them choking, potentially saving their lives.

Mrs Cox, aged 61, of Muirfield Close, Hereford, said she wanted to donate the Laerdal suction machine as a token of thanks to staff at the hospital and to help other patients.

She said: “It is my way of saying thank you for all they have done for us. They offered support not only to me but to my husband. Without the staff I wouldn’t be here. They are my guardian angels.”

The machine can be loaned to patients who live further away from the hospital in places like Hereford so they can return home rather than staying as inpatients. If a patient needs the machine on a permanent basis staff can seek continuing healthcare funding to provide a new machine.

It is the second machine Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has secured but staff hope to be able to secure six.

Louise Pearson, a clinical nurse specialist for head and neck, said: “This will make a tremendous difference to the lives of patients and free up beds in the long run. It can save lives.”

Mrs Cox was diagnosed with cancer of the tongue in July 2007 and had a partial glossectomy to remove part of her tongue.

Mrs Cox and husband Denis renewed their wedding vows in July last year and asked for money instead of gifts. With a £120 donation from the Freemasons they were able to afford the kit.

Mrs Cox had an eight-and-a-half-hour operation in which the side of her face was cut away to remove the cancerous part of her tongue. Surgeons then reconstructed it using tissue from her tummy and arm.

Mrs Cox also said head and neck cancer surgery must carry on at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are competing to host head and neck cancer surgery although no date has yet been confirmed for a decision, which will be taken by Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire primary care trusts.

The Gloucester bid is preferred but no decision has been made.

Mrs Cox said: “To move the service from here would be absolutely ludicrous.

“This is a specialist unit and the people are highly qualified.”