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28 Heart Attacks in One Day, Man Lives
AN ENGINEER has survived 28 cardiac arrests in a single afternoon, after he was resuscitated on each occasion using a defibrillator. Jeff Kerswell, 54, from Whipton, Devon, remembers little about it but his doctors and paramedics certainly will. “The consultant took pictures and X-rays of his chest and a picture of the two of us together to show there was a happy ending,” Heather Kerswell, the patient’s wife, said yesterday.

“He couldn’t believe it. He wants to use [the picture] in his research and teaching.”

Mr Kerswell, a shower engineer, was at work when he began having chest pains. “I finished work, came home at about 2.30pm and they started again, so I lay down upstairs,” he said. “They got worse, so I phoned Heather and she said, ‘Phone for the ambulance’. The last thing I remember is being carried down the stairs on a chair by the paramedics. They said it was shortly after I got to the ambulance that I had my first cardiac arrest. I don’t remember anything until the next evening, when I came off the life-support machine.”

He suffered five cardiac arrests during the journey of a mile to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and another 23 inside the building. To the increasing surprise of doctors, they were able to bring him back on each occasion using a defibrillator, which is a device that delivers a controlled electric shock through the chest wall to the heart, in order to restore a normal heartbeat.

Mrs Kerswell, 51, said: “It’s a miracle that he is here. We were told that this was very unusual.”

A week on, Mr Kerswell has returned home and is able to walk. He is expected to be off work for three months. “I just want to thank all the doctors and paramedics involved,” he said yesterday. “There is no doubt that without them I wouldn’t be here.”

Adrian Midgley, a local GP, said: “This is highly unusual — this guy was very lucky. Recovering people is fairly successful with the equipment, but usually you would then be able to calm the heart down.”

Manish Gandhi, a consultant cardiologist at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, said: “If it wasn’t for the paramedics he wouldn’t have made it. The advice to call for an ambulance saved his life. Soon after the paramedics arrived his heart stopped beating. The public health challenge is to raise awareness about how to recognise symptoms of angina or a heart attack and to seek medical help without delay.”