JACKIE Rogers has endured three traumatic trips in the back of rescue helicopters since 2008, each time believing her children would never see her alive again.
The mother-of-three was just 49 and in seemingly good health while driving along the highway at Oakey with kids Maddie, 12 and Ammon, 10, in the car.
Out of nowhere, Jackie felt an excruciating pain radiate up her back.
"I initially thought it was a damaged disc from an accident a few weeks' back, so I pulled over so I could get comfortable and relieve the pain," she said.
But it only got worse.
As the pain spread to her chest and throughout her body, Jackie's instincts as a nurse told her something was seriously wrong.
Jackie's aorta, the main artery in her heart, had torn open and blood was pooling in her chest.
"At this point I was vomiting from the extreme pain but somehow managed to drive to a nearby service station for help," she said.
"When we pulled in, I turned to Maddie and said, 'run as fast as you can and call Mummy an ambulance'.
"It makes me so proud of my kids; they really held it together and probably saved my life.
"The look on their faces was really traumatic for me though. You never want your kids to witness their own Mum fighting for her life."
As paramedics loaded Jackie into the ambulance, she saw something she says will haunt her forever.
"My son went up to the paramedic and begged him, 'please don't let my Mum die'."
After tests at Toowoomba Hospital revealed the life-threatening aortic dissection, the Emergency Management Queensland (EMQ) helicopter came to transport Jackie to Brisbane for further treatment. It would be the first of three traumatic and lifesaving airlifts, two later performed by RACQ CareFlight Rescue.
"I was only 49 at the time with no signs or symptoms, so it was completely unexpected."
Aortic dissection is relatively rare and often fatal.
"When your aorta dissects, you don't normally survive it. Let alone survive it three times."
Jackie's second brush with death came in 2010 when she felt the familiar agonising pain.
Taking no chances, she presented to Toowoomba Hospital and RACQ CareFlight Rescue was immediately called in with a critical care doctor on board to fly her to Brisbane.
The third airlift came in January 2015 when, yet again, Jackie experienced the terrifying pains of the same life-threatening heart condition. CareFlight was again called in to airlift Jackie from Warwick Hospital to Brisbane for emergency medical care.
Jackie says CareFlight means so much to her and her family.
"If it wasn't for CareFlight, I simply wouldn't be here today. My kids wouldn't have their Mum."