Rowena Newman did boot camp twice a week, had good blood pressure and ate well.

Being a single mother in a high-pressure marketing job, going to bed exhausted was not unusual.

But one night she was so tired that when she tried to stand, her leg muscles weren’t working properly.

It was a shock when she woke up at 3am the next morning feeling “something catastrophic was happening”.

“It felt like I had a butterfly in my chest,” Ms Newman said.

The 47-year-old felt her heart fluttering, but not pumping.

The Sydney-based mother called out to her 11-year-old daughter Claudia, who was sleeping in the adjacent bedroom, and told her to call an ambulance.

When the ambulance arrived, Ms Newman had a cardiac arrest.

She doesn’t remember the next eight minutes when she was being resuscitated and defibrillated.

a woman and a teenage daughter look at each other sitting on the couch

Ms Newman called out to her daughter Claudia, who called an ambulance. (ABC Radio Sydney: Declan Bowring)

“I had gone. I experienced what it felt like to have that happen,” Ms Newman told Nightlife on ABC Radio.

“I don’t have memory of the defibrillation but I have memory of the waves of my heart not working and what that felt like as it all sort of stopped.”

Lucky to survive

Claudia Howard said she used to be woken up by her mother, but not at three in the morning.

She remembers the paramedics arriving about five minutes after calling Triple-0.

“It was a bit worrying,” Claudia said.

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