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Fintech investor nearly died at the airport

At last week's Singapore Fintech Festival, most battle stories from founders were about struggles with their startups. However, Pauline Wray, a head of new ventures at a fintech currently in stealth mode, has had a more existential battle.

Wray nearly died in Changi Airport earlier this year. She was returning to Singapore from Switzerland, having recently taken a friend to climb Mont Blanc, when she collapsed and was rushed to hospital.

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Pauline had a pulmonary embolism. Speaking at the festival with Pauline, her husband Simon, director at IT consultancy Synechron, said she had a 20% chance of survival. "She suffered from massive blood loss, organ failures, lung and heart infections." 

Treatment was also risky. Inserting lung and heart support could cause her to die of blood loss. "Definitely dead or probably dead," Simon said. "What a choice."

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In hospital, Pauline said her mind went into "turbocharge." Three "soundtracks" were playing. One was of fear, as she heard doctors discuss things like amputating her foot. Another was practical, as she wondered if Simon had the passwords to her bank account. The last soundtrack was a literal one, as Simon put her favorite playlist on repeat.

She had the operation, successfully, and two weeks later the pair were able to communicate. "She was full of tubes, but we used sign language and writing."

Pauline and Simon have three kids, aged fourteen, twelve and eight. Simon "was honest with them, transparent that their mum had a 20% chance of living." He also discussed "how strong and determined she was."

The "superpowers" that Pauline says kept her alive were "faith that the impossible could become possible," the "tenacity to get s*** done," and "a network that empowers them to greatness and loves them regardless of the outcome." Simon says "pressure is a privilege: it means you're still in the fight. Even if it's not alright, it's not the end."

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AUTHORAlex McMurray Editor

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