Belfast Telegraph

Heart attack survivor thanks his saviours

Bowls player George tells of close call with death

By Donna Deeney

A pensioner from Londonderry has met up with a bowling club groundsman and others who saved his life after he suffered a heart attack while playing at his local club.

George Burns (80) is among just 10% of people in Northern Ireland who survive a sudden heart attack while not in a hospital.

Now he is well on the road to a full recovery and yesterday met up with the team of people who put him back on his feet - including the ambulance paramedics, Altnagelvin hospital staff and the members of Lisnagelvin Bowling Club who first administered CPR on George.

A very thankful George said he owes his life to the skills of both his friends at the bowling club and the medical team on May 16.

"I didn't have any pain in my chest or down my arm and I didn't in any way feel I was unwell, although I do have a pace maker," he said.

"I don't actually remember a thing about the day from the time I finished playing bowls on the green and going into the clubhouse, to waking up in hospital.

"What I do know is that I owe my life to Shaun, who looks after the greens, and Jim Ross, a good friend of mine at the club.

"They worked on me until the ambulance came and transferred me to Altnagelvin hospital.

"My daughter, who is a doctor, was able to explain to me just how serious the situation was.

"I was, for all intents and purposes, dead, but I did come around and I am here to tell the tale.

"I am blessed with a very good family who are taking great care of me - but I owe my life to Shaun and Jim at the club and to the excellent care I received from the ambulance staff, the doctors and the nurses at Altnagelvin, which was second to none.

"It was very emotional for me going back to the bowling club and there was a tear in my eye, although I tried to make a joke of it with Shaun and Jim.

"I said to them, 'You boys have a lot to answer for, because the top half of my body is as black as the footpath'.

"I feel as well now as I have done before this happened and I still get to the club thanks to my wife, because I have to wait for six months before I can drive again, so I have that to look forward to."

The members of Lisnagelvin Bowling Club were trained in the use of a defibrillator and knew how to perform CPR.

Yesterday, Mr Burns donated a new defibrillator to All Saints Caring Association in the Waterside as part of the Forward Hearts scheme, in which survivors of a cardiac arrest take the opportunity to save another life.

Laura Coulter of the Ambulance Service said early intervention is crucial when someone has a heart attack.

She explained: "Because the defibrillator was used at such an early stage, George's cardiac output was restored."

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