Surviving a stroke is not something most 24 year olds think about. But for Priya Sharma, a fit and healthy Serco Customer Service Representative in Sydney, this terrifying event changed her life.
In 2015, Priya suffered a stroke, caused by multiple blood clots in her brain, lungs and right leg. “It was definitely a shock, I was told by my neurosurgeon that I got to the hospital just in time and that if I hadn’t come in, I would have died,” Priya said. “I was in hospital for about three weeks, rehab for two weeks and then outpatient rehab for four weeks.”
As part of her recovery, Priya had to learn how to walk again and do everyday tasks like using a knife and fork. Supported by her colleagues, Priya was gradually able to return to work. “Serco was definitely supportive,” she said. “They held my job and I went back five months after I got out of hospital. They were supportive in letting me gradually increase my hours until I could get back to full time.”
Three years later, Priya is fully recovered and back to her usual active self, but the incident has inspired her to make a positive difference. She now participates in the Stride4Stroke in November each year, and has coordinated events at Serco to help raise much-needed funds for the Stroke Foundation.
Being a young stroke survivor, Priya has also made a great effort to educate those around her about the risk of stroke, especially in young people.
In acknowledgement of her efforts to improving the care and support of stroke survivors in the community, Priya was recently nominated for a Stroke Foundation Award in the Improving Life After Stroke category. This award recognises stroke survivors, carers, and volunteers who are making a big difference to the lives of survivors and raising awareness of their needs.
Attending the Stroke Foundation Awards event in Melbourne on Thursday 3 May, Priya was recognised as a finalist in her category. “I am extremely proud and very happy to be able to have this opportunity,” Priya said. “I have worked very hard on my recovery, and I am always looking for ways to inspire hope in other survivors.”
Serco Citizen Services Managing Director Peter Welling praised Priya's determination and commitment to such a worthy cause. “Priya has been a great ambassador for raising awareness of young stroke victims,” he said. “We’re all so proud of what she has achieved and we’re delighted that her efforts have been recognised by the Stroke Foundation.”