July 3, 2008

I Was Dead on Floor but NHS Saved Me

Great-grandmother Lillian McCormack will be forever grateful to the team of NHS medics who saved her life.

The 77-year-old was in hospital for tests when her heart stopped.

Anaesthetist Doctor Paul Jones was part of the cardiac team at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire which revived her.

And Mrs McCormack believes she wouldn't have had better care than on the NHS.

She said: "Dr Jones saved my life. I owe him so much. I experienced wonderful first-class service when I was in hospital. I couldn't fault it.

"If I had been abroad I would have had to pay but in this country we are so lucky to have the NHS. It is there for us from the cradle to the grave no matter how ill you are.

"The staff at the cardiac unit were amazing as well. I owe so much to all those who cared for me, from the doctors and the nurses down to the tea ladies.

"The National Health Service gave me first class care."

Mrs McCormack had previously suffered slightly from angina but had no serious cardiac or health problems until four weeks ago.

The resident of Shaw Street, Newcastle, had suffered a sleepless night because of breathlessness.

Not unduly alarmed, she visited her GP in the morning and he sent her to the hospital for tests. While there her heart stopped.

Lillian, who is originally from Fife in Scotland, has lived in Staffordshire for more than 50 years.

She has nine great-grandchildren and she used to be a foster carer.

She said: "There was no warning at all, I was just in the cubicle getting changed to have an x ray for my breathlessness.

"I remember falling to the ground and feeling a pain in my leg. I had actually broken my leg with the weight of the fall. Then people were around me shouting, 'come back to us Lillian, come on, stay with us'.

"I remember saying my leg hurts and I heard a woman, who turned out to be a sister saying, 'your heart is far more important than your leg Lillian'.

"I had a feeling of being pulled about and then this horrible pain in my chest as they used a machine to restart my heart.

"It wasn't a heart attack, it was a full-blown cardiac arrest.

"My heart had stopped completely and needed to be restarted.

"I was dead and the anaesthetist who acted so quickly, actually brought me back to life."

Dr Jones said: "This was a rather unusual circumstance. People do not usually collapse in the out patients department.

"It's the equivalent of someone collapsing in a supermarket, it is so rare.

"I was part of the cardiac team that day and we rushed to the scene and used a defibrillator, using electricity and then drugs to help Lillian. We were able to respond very quickly, because a hospital bus driver rushed us to the scene from another part of the hospital, so he deserves some of the praise too.

"Helping people like this is part and parcel of our everyday jobs. It's what we do and it's really good when there is a favourable outcome.

"Often that's not the case as most people with cardiac arrest do not make it but we were happy to help and see such a good result in Lillian's case."

Mrs McCormack's 27-year-old granddaughter Andrea Balderson was with her at the hospital.

She said: "It was very upsetting to see what was happening.

"But they staff were fabulous and doing everything they could to save her. I know Dr Jones was upset afterwards because of the horrible pain he made my gran feel but he saved her life."

Mrs McCormack has her broken leg in a cast which she will have to keep on for another two weeks but otherwise has she made a remarkable recovery from her ordeal.

(c) 2008 Sentinel, The (Stoke-on-Trent UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.