Alive! The hus­band whose heart stopped for 68 min­utes

Wife told medics to fight on

Daily Mail - - News - By An­drew Levy

AFTER Chris Hickey col­lapsed and lay med­i­cally dead for al­most an hour, a doc­tor told his wife Sue he couldn’t be saved.

The com­pany di­rec­tor had suf­fered a car­diac ar­rest and, de­spite at­tempts by his wife and mem­bers of the emer­gency ser­vices to re­sus­ci­tate him for 55 min­utes, he re­mained un­re­spon­sive.

But she begged for the doc­tor to try just a lit­tle longer, and ten min­utes later her hus­band’s heart be­gan to beat again.

Mr Hickey was placed in an in­duced coma at hos­pi­tal and when he was brought round was vir­tu­ally un­scathed de­spite his heart hav­ing been stopped of­fi­cially for 68 min­utes.

The fa­ther of one said: ‘ The fire ser­vice worked on me, fol­lowed by paramedics and a doc­tor from the air am­bu­lance and they used a de­fib­ril­la­tor to give me 12 shocks. Nor­mally they stop after three.

‘But all of it would have been for noth­ing if my wife hadn’t started straight away. Sue was un­trained but those three to four min­utes [after be­ing talked through the process by a 999 op­er­a­tor] were vi­tal.’

Mr Hickey, 63, was asleep in bed at his home in Chel­tenham, Glouces­ter­shire, on June 16 when his wife heard him gasp­ing for breath. She rushed in and be­gan per­form­ing chest com­pres­sions and ar­ti­fi­cial ven­ti­la­tion after call­ing 999.

A fire crew ar­rived and took over for ten min­utes be­fore paramedics turned up and worked on Mr Hickey for an­other 20 min­utes. They were fol­lowed by an air am­bu­lance with a doc­tor who tried to save him for an­other 20 min­utes be­fore stop­ping.

Mrs Hickey’s pleas to con­tinue led to an­other ten min­utes of car­diopul­monary re­sus­ci­ta­tion (CPR) be­fore a heart­beat was fi­nally de­tected in her hus­band

‘Why I sur­vived so well is a mys­tery’

of 38 years. Weak and in a crit­i­cal con­di­tion, Mr Hickey was flown to Bris­tol Royal In­fir­mary where doc­tors placed him in a coma for three days to try to help him re­cover.

His wife, 62, was warned he might still die and was told to ask close fam­ily mem­bers to as­sem­ble at the hos­pi­tal to say good­bye. But when her hus­band was al­lowed to slowly re­gain con­scious­ness it be­came clear there were no last­ing ef­fects, other than los­ing all mem­ory of the three days be­fore the drama.

Tests showed he had nearly suc­cumbed to Sud­den Ar­rhyth­mic Death Syn­drome which af­fects around 30,000 peo­ple each year in the UK. Only 8 per cent sur­vive.

The col­lapse of Bolton foot­baller Fabrice Muamba dur­ing an FA Cup match in 2012 has been at­trib­uted to the con­di­tion. He sur­vived de­spite his heart stop­ping for 78 min­utes.

Of­ten the cause is un­known, and doc­tors were un­able to es­tab­lish what trig­gered the dis­tur­bance to Mr Hickey’s heart rhythm. ‘I’ve had every test known to man. They don’t know why my heart stopped,’ he said. ‘And why I sur­vived so well is just a mys­tery. My heart com­pletely stopped for 68 min­utes – that’s what it says on my discharge sum­mary.’

Mr Hickey, who is back work­ing full- time at his hu­man re­sources com­pany, is call­ing for more mem­bers of the public to be made aware of the im­por­tance of ad­min­is­ter­ing CPR as quickly as pos­si­ble in life or death sit­u­a­tions.

He said: ‘If peo­ple are pre­pared to in­ter­vene more quickly it can save lives. It’s not about train­ing – you can’t kill some­one from giv­ing them CPR. It’s about mak­ing them aware they can ring 999 and be talked through it.’

A tiny de­fib­ril­la­tor has been fit­ted in his chest in case his heart stops again. But doc­tors have given him the all-clear to do as much ex­er­cise as he wants.

His wife, with whom he has a 26-year-old daugh­ter, is still deal­ing with the shock of watch­ing him nearly die. Yet if she hadn’t been there to take the in­struc­tions about CPR, things would have been quite dif­fer­ent. ‘I had every con­fi­dence with the guy on the phone,’ she said. ‘There’s no magic to it – you just have to do it. The im­por­tant thing is that it starts straight away.’

Re­cov­ered: Chris Hickey has re­turned to full-time work

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