Oxford

Rebecca Henderson: Posthumous degree for rucksack heart woman

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Media caption'I carry my heart in a rucksack'

An Oxford University student who had to carry an artificial heart in a rucksack after her own was removed has been awarded her master's degree posthumously.

Rebecca Henderson, 24, from Bicester, Oxfordshire, died in February from transplant complications.

She was one of only two people in the UK with an artificial heart.

Mum Linda Henderson said she cried when she heard Rebecca had been awarded the degree.

Image caption Rebecca Henderson had her heart removed due to cancer in 2017

Ms Henderson said she was "really happy" as Rebecca was "so brilliant academically and I saw all of the hard work she put in".

She said: "It depends how much work a student has completed as to whether or not [the university] will award a degree, and sometimes it's only a certificate.

"Rebecca had got about two thirds of the way through and it had to go all the way to the education committee where they were able to waive some of the criteria that she needed to fill.

"Becca had actually booked her graduation slot before she went into hospital, so we're still going on the same day and we will pick up her masters degree on her behalf."

She added the family were "going to plant a shrub or a tree in the quad at St Anne's next to the library and scatter some of Becca's ashes there".

Image caption Rebecca relied on this artificial heart to pump blood around her body

Oxford University said it made the decision based on her progress towards successfully completing a master's degree in English.

Her tutors added: "Becca was a person of extraordinary courage, humour and intellectual achievement."

Rebecca had her heart removed due to cancer in 2017. In October, she returned to study at St Anne's College and brought the 7kg artificial heart with her.

At the time she said: "At no point did it ever occur to me to give up.

"No matter how hard it is for me, even if it is hard for me, it will then be easier for the next person."

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