Pride as community-funded Letwell defibrillator becomes a lifesaver

Pride as community-funded Letwell defibrillator becomes a lifesaver

By Adele Forrest | 03/12/2018

Pride as community-funded Letwell defibrillator becomes a lifesaver
Letwell fund-raisers, from left to right: Jenny Straw, Martyn Sharpe and Andy Swift.

A DEFIBRILLATOR installed by villagers after a fundraising campaign has helped save the life of a 50-year-old father of triplets.

The man — who works as an NHS psychiatrist — was enjoying a bike ride with a group of medic friends when he started to complain of a tightness in his chest as he pedalled uphill around a mile from Letwell.

Martyn Sharpe, Letwell Parish Council clerk, said the man, whose name he did not know, mistook the pains for indigestion intially, and told his friends he’d be okay once he’d rested for a while and got his breath back.
But his condition worsened as the cyclists paused by the roadside, and he suffered a cardiac arrest and fell unconsciousness.

Alerted to the location of the defib by the ambulance service, the group rushed to fetch the portable machine from outside the village hall, and used it immediately to re-start the man’s faltering heart during the incident this summer.

The cyclists — most of them doctors — adminstered CPR until an ambulance dashed their friend to the specialist cardiac unit at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital.

One of the man’s colleagues, who works as a doctor and lives in nearby Firbeck, said the presence of the defib had ultimately made all the difference.

He said: “There are heart attacks and there are heart attacks, and this was a bad one. 

“One of his major arteries was blocked, and there’s a good reason why that artery is often called the widow maker, and causes so many deaths.

“Administering CPR is important in situations like this, but the longer that goes on the less chance there is of a recovery, and it was de-fib that made the difference in this case.”

The man is recovering well after surgery to fit a stent.

The doctor added: “One of the medics on the bike ride was the paediatrician who delivered the man’s triplets, and he went to visit him in hospital. He’s not back on his bike yet, but he’s doing fine.”

Campaigners, who funded the defib by dressing up and performing at a cabaret night two years ago, said the incident illustrated the value of the machine in the village. 

Resident Rita Harrison, who helped organise the event, said: “I think it’s absolutely amazing that it’s helped save someone’s life. 

“The people at Start A Heart 24/7, the Rotherham charity which helped set things up, got quite emotional when I told them what had happened.

“We installed the machine thinking it’d probably never get used, specially as Letwell is a bit off the beaten track, and there aren’t that many people passing by.”

Mr Sharpe said the incident fully justified the decision to install the defib. 

“There was a feeling when it went in that it might not be necessary in a very small community like ours,” he added.

“But it’s paid for itself many times over with this one event. 

“If it only ever saves one life you can’t ask for more than that.”

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