back to top

US Swimmer Asks Prince Harry To Give Invictus Medal To UK Hospital That Saved Her Life

Sergeant Elizabeth Marks said she would "never be able to repay" the NHS. Update: Prince Harry has presented the medal to Papworth Hospital.

Originally posted on
Updated on
O
Chris Jackson / Getty Images

O

A US army sergeant has asked Prince Harry to give one of the gold medals she won at the Invictus Games to the hospital in England that she credits with saving her life.

Elizabeth Marks returned the medal she won for the 100-metre freestyle in Orlando and asked him to give it to Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire instead.

This #InvictusGames winner gave her medal back to Prince Harry to give to the NHS hospital that saved her life https://t.co/API93tfU1S

Marks went into respiratory distress syndrome on the eve of the inaugural Invictus Games, which Prince Harry set up to support the rehabilitation and recovery of injured service personnel, in London two years ago.

She was put into a medically induced coma and placed on life support, but made a full recovery.

Alex Menendez / Getty Images

“It’s the only thing I could give to thank them for saving my life," the 25-year-old, from Arizona, said.

In a message to the NHS, she added: “I will never be able to repay you, but what you are doing is wonderful. I gave one of my medals to Prince Harry and hope it will find its way back to [Papworth].”

Prince Harry watches the wheelchair rugby finals with US vice-president Joe Biden and his wife Jill.
Gerardo Mora / Getty Images

Prince Harry watches the wheelchair rugby finals with US vice-president Joe Biden and his wife Jill.

Combat medic Marks was left with no sensation in her left leg after suffering a serious hip injury in 2010, but she still serves in the US army after regaining fitness.

She is due to compete in the Paralympics in Rio this summer.

Claire Tripp, interim chief executive at Papworth, said the hospital was “delighted” by the recovery made by Marks and her success in the pool.

“Our staff pride themselves on offering the very highest standard of patient care and we are all delighted to hear of Elizabeth’s extraordinary achievement,” she said in a statement emailed to BuzzFeed News. “We wish Elizabeth the very best and would very much like to meet with her so we can thank her personally.”

Alex Menendez / Getty Images
Chris Jackson / Getty Images

Elizabeth Marks won four gold medals at the Invictus Games in Orlando.

Dr Roger Hall, the hospital’s medical director, thanked Marks for her “extremely generous and unexpected gesture”.

“Our pioneering and innovating ethos allows us to offer some of the UK’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.”

Thank you Stg Marks for your incredible donation. https://t.co/BOAssJDMLx #InvictusGames @WeAreInvictus @USArmy


UPDATE

Marks met the people who saved her for the first time on Friday, courtesy of a reverse vision monitor on ITV's Good Morning Britain.

She never actually met the medical team at Papworth because she woke up from an induced coma in Germany 10 days after being admitted in the UK.

Speaking from Florida, Marks said she had been "overwhelmed" by the response to her gold medals, and gesture.

“I guess there’s no way to express my thanks in words. But thank you for giving me my life back," she said to Dr Alain Vuylsteke and nurse Jo-anne Fowles.

She added: "You save so many lives and I know that you don’t get to see the people that you touch and the people that you save. "But I hope that you see me and know that I love you and care about you, and the work you do is amazing."

Good Morning Britain / ITV / Via itv.com

UPDATE

On 1 June, Prince Harry presented Marks' gold medal to staff at Papworth Hospital.

Prince Harry presents @PapworthHosp staff with Elizabeth Marks' @InvictusOrlando gold medal



Matthew Champion is a deputy world news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Matthew Champion at matthew.champion@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.