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Charismatic entertainer makes a comeback

Award-winning singer and entertainer Suzanne Prentice believes if it had not been for the quick actions of her husband and hospital staff, she might not have survived a heart attack in 2022.

Suzanne is sitting cross-legged upon a cushion in a black and white zebra print. She is wearing blue denim jeans, with a pale blue button down shirt and bright converse sneakers on her feet. She is smiling broadly.

Sudden heart attack signs came out of the blue

"I lead a busy life between my singing career and community commitments. I had just arrived home from a meeting and had dinner as usual when suddenly I began having pain in my neck and back," Suzanne says.

"All of a sudden, the pain became very intense, and I was on the floor." Her husband called an ambulance immediately, and she was taken to Southland Hospital.

"The ambulance staff worked on me at home to stabilise me before taking me to the hospital. With various tests completed, it was confirmed I had had a heart attack. My condition fluctuated through the night, and I went into cardiac arrest in the early hours of the following morning."

Airlifted to hospital

"Before I knew it, I was in the Otago Rescue Helicopter, heading to Dunedin hospital."

During the three days in Dunedin hospital, she was fitted with a stent in one artery and put on medication for another slightly blocked artery.

A second chance at life

She has since recovered and is feeling good. "I was extremely lucky; it could have gone either way, but I was given a second chance, for which I'll be eternally grateful. A cardiac arrest certainly makes you look at life differently."

Suzanne received helpful advice from the Heart Foundation regarding lifestyle changes to look after herself and successfully manage her heart condition, which she inherited from both her parents.

Still a performer at heart

These days, she has returned to her busy singing life, which she has successfully managed for nearly fifty years – although she has decided to slow down a little.

"I choose my performances more carefully now. I still enjoy performing, but over the last eight years, most of my time has been spent overseas. I have decided to work closer to home with performances planned throughout New Zealand."

Suzanne received an OBE in the Queen's honours list in 1994. She has written two best-selling books, received numerous gold and platinum disc awards and worked with some of the most famous names in the entertainment industry, including Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Julio Iglesias, Roy Orbison and The Beach Boys, to name just a few.

Suzanne first appeared on our screens singing the song 'Funny Face' in a TVNZ talent show. For many years she enjoyed working with our own New Zealand children on a concert she helped create called 'Kids For Kids', raising awareness of the plight of underprivileged children worldwide. Suzanne was told many years ago that the show raised approximately $13.7 million in sponsorship, of which she's very proud.

Today, her busy life also includes being a board member of the Invercargill Licensing Trust and a trustee of the Otago Southland Rescue Helicopter service. She is also part of a small part of the team at Hospice Southland as their event coordinator.

Supporting the Big Heart Appeal

Today she is supporting this year's Big Heart Appeal. She is encouraging New Zealanders to donate so that the Heart Foundation can fund life-saving heart research.