Tuesday, February 25, 2014

'I thought I was going to die': Grandfather John Lord suffered a heart attack while flying near Wickhambrook

A grandfather has told how he cheated death when he suffered a heart attack - 1,500ft in the air in his microlight aircraft.

John Lord, 64, who had always been in perfect health, was 20 minutes into a solo flight on Saturday afternoon when he was gripped by crippling chest pains.

He immediately turned round and struggled the ten miles back to his friend’s field near Wickhambrook where he had taken off.

Despite being in agony, grandfather John - a microlight pilot for 24 years - managed a “text book landing” before getting his friend to call an ambulance.

Within minutes of touching down he announced “I think I’m going to die” before he collapsed.

Paramedics frantically performed CPR and managed to revive him before rushing him to West Suffolk Hospital.

John, a dad-of-one, was due to be transferred to the specialist heart unit at Papworth Hospital yesterday.

Speaking from his hospital bed yesterday he said: “It was a beautiful day and the wind was in the right direction so I thought I would go for a fly.

“The chest pains started to get more intense but I didn’t think it was anything serious.

“I thought they were down to being extremely hot so I was being optimistic at one point but then I thought to myself ‘I must get back on the ground’.

“I knew when I was sitting in the car on the ground that something was seriously wrong.

“I said ‘I think I’m going to die’ and the next thing I know the paramedic was doing CPR on me.

“It is fortunate I didn’t carry on flying and that I decided to come back when I did because if I hadn’t done that it could have been a very different story.”

He added: “That’s my flying days over. I’ve flown for over 23 years and it was a very close call. I wouldn’t want to put the stress on my wife.

“Somebody was looking after me on Saturday, that’s for sure.”

John, of Bury St Edmunds, is due to retire from his post as a technical consultant at mobile phone giants EE.

He first got his pilot’s license in 1989 and immediately got hooked on the buzz of being alone in the sky and planned to spend much of his retirement flying.

But since his near-miss he has also been forced to cancel his first retirement plan of a holiday to Florida next month as he faces up to eight weeks rehabilitation.

Instead of flying he plans to pursue his other hobby of photography from the safety of the ground - but he admits nothing will beat the thrill of getting into a cockpit.

John, who is married to wife Angela, 61, added: “I’ve never been in hospital in my life before this. I’ve never broken anything.

“I am so thankful to the ambulance service or everything that was done on Saturday. Without them it would have been so very different.”

Paramedic Dale Boulston, who saved John’s life, said: “While we were assessing the patient he went into cardiac arrest.

“We worked to resuscitate him and were fortunately able to get a return of spontaneous circulation which means his heart started beating normally again.

“We took him to West Suffolk General for further treatment and I was able to visit him in hospital on Sunday.”

An ambulance service spokesman said: “We’re really pleased to hear that Mr Lord is doing so well following his incident just a few days ago.

“It’s lucky for everyone involved that John was able to land the plane safely and fortunately our hard working crew was then on hand to give immediate lifesaving treatment.

“People who suffer a cardiac arrest outside of hospital have less than a 20 per cent chance of survival: the sooner they receive CPR and access to a defibrillator the better, and in this case our crews were able to carry out chest compressions and give a shock from the defibrillator as soon as John went into cardiac arrest.

“This undoubtedly made a real difference to John surviving and making such a good recovery.

“We wish him all the best with the recovery process and hope he has a happy and healthy future ahead of him.”

Story and photo gallery:  http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk

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