This time last year Mandy Blake suffered a massive heart attack on the side of the road and died. Twice.
And one stage her heart stopped beating for 10 minutes. It was only through the quick attention of Levin St John ambulance officers that she is still alive today.
The bubbly Paraparaumu mother-of-two bundled up some hugs and several bunches of flowers last week to thank those who brought her back to life.
"They did a fantastic job. They saved my life," she said.
It was an emotional reunion. There were tears and laughter as the story of how her life was saved was revisited.
Mandy and her then fiance Aaron (they have since married) were driving back to Paraparaumu from a weekend away at Waitarere Beach, when she started having chest pain.
By the time they reached Levin the pain had worsened. Aaron pulled over and immediately rang 111.
"I felt a pain in my chest. It felt like indigestion. But it got worse, and worse, and worse," she said,
The St John Ambulance from Levin pulled up behind their car. Mandy's heart stopped completely as ambulance officers Kurt Lendrum and Lisa Eveleigh began to conduct their assessment.
"Her heart stopped right in front of us," he said.
They immediately began CPR and resuscitation procedures called for assistance from Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) communications desk, who dispatched another ambulance and fire crews.
But there was still no heart beat. Mandy was being kept alive by the chest compressions. On the fifth bout of electric shock from the defribulator, her heart started again.
Lendrum said after 10 minutes with no heartbeat, her eyes opened and she said "what do you think you're looking at".
"She said to us 'I've crossed over to the other side and seen Mum and told her it's not my time. She told me it's not my time either'," he said.
"We all had goosebumps. Those were the first words out of her mouth ... it was so convincing."
But her fight for life was far from over. While she was talking to ambulance staff her heart stopped again.
"I remember it happening. I felt really crook," she said.
Officers resumed resuscitation procedures. Some of her ribs were broken as they worked hard to keep her alive. On the third wave of electric shock, her heart started beating again.
Ambulance staff began to intravenously administer thrombolitic drugs designed to break down blood vessel clogs, and ketamine.
There were concerns, due to the amount of time that she had been without oxygen, that her brain could stop functioning. However, the fact that she was still talking allayed those fears.
Blake said she remembered standing above the ambulance staff watching them giving her chest compressions, in what could only have been an out-of-body experience.
"I kept coming in and out of my body," she said.
A helicopter arrived and she was flown to Wellington Hospital. Despite clinging to life Mandy remembers some of the conversations in the ambulance, and the helicopter ride to Wellington Hospital.
Within hours of arriving at Wellington Hospital - where her children Paris, 21, and Gabriel, 19, were waiting - she was in surgery to have a stent put in a blocked artery.
Blake spent nine days in hospital recovering. Some of her ribs were broken and her sternum was bruised through the resuscitation.
She said she was so grateful to the treatment she received from all emergency service and hospital staff, from the time of the heart attack to the time she was released.
"They were all so wonderful," she said.
Since the ordeal Mandy had stopped smoking and drinking and had made changes to her diet. She's taken up yoga. She has quit her old job in favour of a new, less stressful one.
"The cardiologist can't believe my recovery," she said.
"I don't eat much meat now either. I hate the smell of it."
While her heart had stopped Blake was adamant she "crossed over". She remembers seeing her late mother waiting at a table, seated next to other family members.
"I had no fear of when you go. It's quite nice ... your family and everyone you know is there," she said.
"It wasn't my time."
Blake said the near-death exprience completely changed her outlook on life.
"It changes your whole perception on life. You don't sweat the small stuff anymore," she said.
"Don't try and change people. Just accept them for who they are. Be kind. That was the fundamental thing. Be kind - that's the message.
"This is a good life. It's a blessing."
Statistics showed that Blake was lucky to survive. There was just a 27 per cent survival rate of patients that have a pulse on arrival to hospital, and a 14 per cent survival rate overall.
On average, five people suffer an out-of-hospital heart attack each day in New Zealand, of which 28 per cent are female and 72 per cent were male.