Becca Henderson

St Anne’s College is deeply saddened to share the devastating news that Masters student, Rebecca Henderson, has passed away following heart transplant surgery.

Becca completed a BA in English and Modern Languages at St Anne’s College between 2013 and 2017. A talented and enthusiastic student, she was accepted by the University of Oxford for an MSt in English (650 – 1550), also at St Anne’s.

During her studies she fell ill with sepsis and whilst in hospital was diagnosed with cancer of the heart. She defied the odds, undergoing surgery and returning to her studies last year after receiving a Total Artificial Heart. She was only the 2nd person in the UK to leave hospital with a TAH. In January she was placed on the heart transplant list, having lived cancer free for a year, and earlier this month she received a new heart at Harefield Hospital. Tragically after her surgery she suffered a series of complications that she could not recover from.

Becca inspired us all with her unwavering determination to pursue her studies and her contagious enthusiasm for college life. She was progressing towards successfully completing her Masters despite all the health challenges she was facing, whilst also embracing social opportunities within St Anne’s. Her most recent cause for celebration before her operation was that she had received an offer from Oxford English Department to undertake a DPhil. She had so many hopes and plans for the future and it is hard for us to realise that she will not have the chance to fulfil them.

We remember the inspiring and positive example Becca showed us in treasuring the opportunities around her and encouraging us to think of others by signing up as organ and blood donors. We will always be proud that Becca, as an undergraduate and graduate student, was someone who was part of and loved St Anne’s.

Our thoughts and condolences are with Becca’s heartbroken family and friends. St Anne’s welfare team is available 24 hours a day and is providing support within the College.

Becca’s tutors add:

‘Becca was a person of extraordinary courage, humour and intellectual achievement as well as potential. She had the admiration and affection of all who taught her and learned with her, students and tutors alike.’ 

‘Becca’s positive outlook and her tremendous courage and determination were an inspiration to all those around her. In the hospital, while recovering from her first heart surgery, she wrote her first two academic papers, both of which she was subsequently asked to publish. And despite the enormous challenges of having a TAH, she never complained; she brought something new to every class she attended. Just hours before her heart transplant, she was working on her thesis proposal. She was a true scholar, and we all have something to learn from her dedication. Characteristically, she was planning to write her DPhil thesis on attitudes to disability in the Middle Ages, in hope of contributing towards changing attitudes towards disability.’

A Celebration of the life of Becca Henderson took place on Friday 15 March 2019 at 11.00am at Woodstock Road Baptist Church followed by a reception at St Anne’s afterwards. Becca asked that there be no flowers, rather that money that would have been spent collected and split between Cancer Research and Harefield Hospital Trust. 

Donations can be made on the following pages: