Lives saved by a defibrillator

Andrew Louw - cardiac arrest in a swimming pool

Andrew Louw with his wifeAndrew Louw, 33 at the time, was finishing a swimming race in a Greenwich Leisure pool in Barnet in September 2012 when his heart developed an abnormal rhythm and stopped.

Andrew said: “Only a month before I was thinking how perfect my life was – my career at a hedge fund was flying and I had just moved in with my girlfriend.

“I took one last gasp of air before I slipped under and my lungs filled up with water. When I was pulled to the surface, I had no heart beat and I was not breathing. From this point onwards you can count the miracles that allowed me to write my story today. A superbly trained and organised team of lifeguards immediately pulled me from the water and started CPR. Critically, this team had access to a poolside defibrillator and after six shocks they were able to restart my heart and breathing.

“This kept me alive long enough for London Ambulance Service to get me to the Royal Free Hospital where I was ‘frozen’ to protect my brain and major organs. I was in a coma for five days, spent seven days in an intensive care unit and a further five weeks in the cardiac care unit, where I had an internal defibrillator and pacemaker inserted.

“I am fortunate to have made a full recovery and to have returned to work and swimming. I married my girlfriend last year and we are now awaiting the imminent arrival of our first child. 

“At university I trained as a medical doctor, so it is no exaggeration for me to say that a superb team with access to a defibrillator saved my life and allowed me to be here for my family.

“I strongly encourage all businesses to install defibrillators in the workplace. A defibrillator saved my life.”

Chris Woodward - cardiac arrest on the red carpet

Chris Woodward with Helen Mirren Chris Woodward was about to see Dame Helen Mirren’s film 'The Debt' when he collapsed on the red carpet and suffered a cardiac arrest. An off-duty police officer realised that Chris was not breathing, started cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and put a call out for a defibrillator. His police colleagues picked up the life-saving machine from a nearby underground station and rushed it to the scene where it was used to restart Chris’ heart. He has since made a full recovery.

Chris said: “Basically the defibrillator saved my life. I wouldn’t be here today without it. They should be on every street corner and in every building. It’s as simple as that.”

Steve Hodder - cardiac arrest at a train station

Steve Hodder and Eddie McDermottSteve Hodder was on board a train at London Bridge station when his heart stopped beating. He said: “Most people don’t survive a cardiac arrest. But I was lucky to collapse near a defibrillator and someone who knew how to use it.”

Network Rail Station Officer, Eddie McDermott, who helped to save Steve’s life, said: “We need more defibrillators across London and to encourage more people to use them to save lives."

You can view the full transcript from the above video on the website.