Ipswich granddad whose heart stopped for TWENTY minutes meets paramedics who refused to give up on him

Neil Ayers reunited with the paramedics who saved his life. Pic: East of England Ambulance Service T

Neil Ayers reunited with the paramedics who saved his life. Pic: East of England Ambulance Service Trust. - Credit: Archant

It was a normal Wednesday evening for 53-year old Ipswich docks worker Neil Ayers. He came home, had a shower, had dinner, watched some telly, and went to bed.

Neil Ayers and his third granddaughter Lola Ayers, who was born just two weeks before his cardiac ar

Neil Ayers and his third granddaughter Lola Ayers, who was born just two weeks before his cardiac arrest. Pictured on October 23, two months after his ordeal. Pic: Neil Ayers. - Credit: Archant

He kissed his wife of 14 years, Carol, and turned off the lights. That was 10.30pm on August 24. That was when his life changed forever.

For reasons which may never be explained, he suffered a quite devastating cardiac arrest.

“It was completely out of the blue,” he said. His wife, by sheer luck, happened to be looking at him as his eyes suddenly rolled back into his head.

He said: “If she was looking the other way at that particular moment, she may have woken up next to a dead body.”

She dialled 999 and was instructed to give him mouth-to-mouth until paramedics arrived. That was just four minutes later.

Wherstead Road, where they live, was closed off by police, and three fire engines arrived, as the serious nature of the incident quickly emerged.

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A Lucas 2 – an automatic chest compression device – was applied, and he was zapped by a defibrillator seven times. Twenty minutes after his heart had stopped, he was remarkable resuscitated, and effectively brought back to life.

Mr Ayers, who was reunited with the paramedics this week at his home, said: “I asked one of them: why did you keep going? Why didn’t you stop after three, four, five or even six zaps? They just wouldn’t give up.

“He said that, because of my age, because of how quick they got here, I was a viable case for resuscitation.”

He was put on a stretcher but couldn’t be carried down stairs in case his heart stopped again. So firefighters removed the window of his first-floor bedroom. It was a dramatic rescue operation.

“I can’t remember any of it,” Mr Ayers said.

He was put in an induced coma and, two weeks later, was transferred to Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, where he had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator implanted in his chest.

The crane driver has since made a very good recovery and even returned to work for the first time today.

But the whole experience has radically changed the father-of-three’s outlook on life.

“I was a miserable person before, but now I’m a lot calmer and don’t get wound up about things,” he said.

“I also have three granddaughters, and Lola (Ayers) was born two weeks before what happened.”

His voice breaking, he added: “I thought I would never be able to hug her again, or see her face again.

“It was a miracle. Everything fell for me. It obviously wasn’t my time to go. I hugged all of them (paramedics). I have so much love and gratitude. They are family to me now.”

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICD)

They are small devices which can treat people with dangerously abnormal heart rhythms.

Abnormal heart rhythms can cause your heart to beat too quickly, too slowly or in an irregular pattern. These heart rhythms can happen suddenly and unexpectedly and sometimes people die as a result.

An ICD can give your heart electric pulses or shocks to get your heart rhythm back to normal. It is inserted just under your collar bone, looks similar to a pacemaker and is slightly bigger than a matchbox.

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