When Richard Hanscombe collapsed in the middle of a chess match following a cardiac arrest, he was lucky enough to have a trained GP by his side.
But for the quick-thinking actions of Professor Simon Gay, Head of the Medical School at the University of Leicester, Richard would most certainly not be around today.
Simon, a fellow chess player, sprang into action, immediately recognising the danger Richard was in and began CPR before emergency services arrived and whisked Richard to Glenfield Hospital by ambulance.
It wasn’t until some 35 minutes after he collapsed at Braunstone Civic Centre that medical staff were able to detect a heartbeat. Eventually a sedated Richard was hooked up to a ventilator at Glenfield where his devastated family were told his brain had little chance of survival.
However, a day later as they prepared to say their goodbyes and hospital staff began removing his breathing apparatus, Richard suddenly showed signs of life – kicking his legs out and attempting to open his eyes.
Richard’s wife, Paulette said: “He really is a walking miracle. One minute we were crying our eyes out and the next we were jumping for joy.”
Paulette has more than one reason to believe her 77-year-old husband is a “miracle man”.
Not only has he overcome liver and lung cancer, but also a life-threatening sepsis episode in recent years.
“He’s the man with nine lives, but we’re not complaining,” she added.
“We know how close he came to not being with us. But for the speed at which he received CPR, there’s no way the outcome would have been the same. We can’t thank Simon enough for what he did. I know that had it happened at home, there’s no way I would have known exactly what to do.”
Richard said: “It’s a remarkable set of circumstances. I’m a glass half full sort of person and I just get on with things so even though I’d felt a little unwell that evening, I decided to play chess anyway. I’m pleased I did because if it hadn’t happened where it did, Simon wouldn’t have been there to help and I wouldn’t be here today.
“I owe Simon my life for what he did and I’m extremely grateful. It’s a lesson to us all that having these lifesaving skills is essential as well as access to a defibrillator because you just never know when they might be needed. I really am one of the lucky ones.”
A delighted Simon said: “I am very pleased to have been in the right place at the right time to play a part in Richard’s survival that evening.
“I dispatched someone to fetch a defibrillator as soon as it happened and this was on its way from a nearby leisure centre I believe, when paramedics arrived and took over life-saving treatment. But this just goes to show how important having basic CPR skills can be – and I would encourage everyone to consider taking the time to learn it – it is very easy to do.”
He added: “I’m really looking forward to the next time Richard and I are both playing chess together – it will certainly have a bit more meaning to it.”