THE DAY MY HEART STOPPED
The Sunrise sports reporter died for two minutes and had to be brought back to life
Big-hearted TV star Mark Beretta literally appreciates every single sunrise – and sunset – after being rushed into surgery and almost losing his life following complications from a terrible waterskiing accident earlier this year.
The sports reporter on Seven’s breakfast show Sunrise kept his near-death experience secret until now, admitting he was so scared, he said his final goodbyes to his wife Rachel, daughter Ava, 13, and 10-year-old son Daniel, before doctors were forced to stop his heart for two minutes and restart it to keep him alive.
“I remember thinking I was in a vineyard at a big wooden table, it was all very rustic, and there were heaps of people there, including the doctor in charge of my operation – that was my view of the other side,” he says.
Mark can joke about it now, but at the time he really did fear he may not survive the operation. And he says the experience of confronting his own mortality has completely changed his outlook on life.
“When I was waiting to go down to theatre, I sent a message on text to Rach saying I loved her and the kids… but I wasn’t t ready to stay at the vineyard.
“I wake up now and think every day is a gift.”
The nightmare began for Mark k when he broke his kneecap and tore his quadriceps muscle e off the bone during a day of waterskiing on the Sunshine Coast that turned horribly wrong as he was “reliving his glory days”.
Mark, who won 10 Australian waterski championships when he was in his 20s, says he was having the best day ever when he took a turn too hard and “my legs went one way and my body went the other” leaving “bits of me pointing in all directions”. But the agonising p pain he was in from the accident was just the b beginning of the ordeal f for Mark. For while t the operation at Royal N North Shore Hospital i in Sydney was a success, h he developed deep vein t thrombosis just days la later, after a flight to P Perth for a charity event. “I woke up and felt li like someone was sitting o on my stomach and p punching me in the c chest,” reveals Mark, 51. “I was in unbelievable pain, my heart was skipping. I was sitting in bed with my heart racing like I was doing a marathon.”
AT DEATH’S DOOR
Rachel took Mark to hospital, where his heart rate was recorded at 190 beats perminute. per minute. His normal resting heart rate is 54.
“It’s a bit like revving your car engine, and it can seriously damage the heart,” he says.
With the surgeon warning he could suffer a stroke, Mark says he was “probably the most scared I’ve ever been” before he was taken into surgery, where doctors stopped his heart to try to restore its correct rhythm.
“Then it’s exactly what you see in the movies… There was a big whack and I bounced up from the table,” he says, adding he found it very tough mentally, realising he had come close to losing his life.
“You can be fit and feeling a million dollars and your life is actually hanging by a thread.
“I’ve adjusted my attitude to life – I don’t sweat the small things anymore – and I’m spending more time with the kids at home. It was all pretty y intense.”
With Rachel and kids Ava, 13, and Daniel, 10. It was just a very painful break and a tear at first…