In October 2017 you might remember seeing a front page story on The Dominion Post Weekender “The man whose heart stopped working for 70 minutes and lived to tell the tale.”
That man was Marcos Garcia and his fight started at 5.35am on 5 September 2017. Even when his heart stopped working properly, he didn’t give up and neither did we.
Marcos’ story is exceptional, managing to survive for 70 minutes without his heart working properly, thanks to his family knowing CPR and the sheer determination of the paramedics who treated him.
At around 5.35am that morning, Marcos started making an odd sound and flailing his arms. His wife Kris thought it might be a nightmare and tried to wake him. When Marcos didn’t respond, she knew something was wrong and dialled 111. Our call taker let her know that help was coming, but it was 9 minutes away.
Marcos was still convulsing and given his existing heart condition, our call taker advised Kris to put him onto the floor so that she could start CPR if she needed to. So she woke her 17-year-old son, Jonny, to ask him to help.
Help was still 6 minutes away.
Jonny and Kris moved Marcos onto the floor. The call taker asked Kris to tell her each time Marcos took a breath.
Now................................. Now................................ Now................................. Now.................................
Kris only got to four before Marcos stopped breathing altogether. They knew they had to start CPR. Kris bravely started. The call taker helped her with the rhythm, but Kris just couldn’t get it right. She wasn’t doing CPR on a dummy in a training centre, this was her husband, and the situation was overwhelming. Jonny took over.
Help was still 3 minutes away. And three minutes can feel like forever when your dad’s life is in your hands.
Jonny says; ‘I just zoned out so I could focus on what I was doing, rather than what was actually going on, because I feel like if I’d have taken into account that I could lose my dad at this point, I wouldn’t have done it very well.’
After the longest 9 minutes of Kris and Jonny’s lives, the first paramedics Jimmy and Marie arrived, shortly followed by Dave and James. They worked for 20 minutes on Marcos’ heart. The monitors were telling our paramedics that the outcome looked bleak, but Marcos was telling them another story; he reached out and grabbed one of Jimmy’s arms so tightly, they had to prise his fingers off. Don’t give up on me, he seemed to be saying.
Saving a life is about more than medicines and monitors; it’s about human beings working together and having the right people, with the right skills on hand to make those life-saving decisions. The paramedics used their training and their skills to keep on fighting for Marcos’ life.
After 40 minutes, the paramedic team just couldn’t stabilise Marcos’ heart. They knew they had to get Marcos to hospital if he was to have any chance, but to do that meant they had to get him down a steep set of stairs whilst continuing CPR. Some very innovative thinking saw them use their defibrillator in its pacing mode to pump Marcos’ heart while they got him out of the house and into the ambulance.
It worked – the love of his family, the skill and determination of the paramedics looking after Marcos that day accomplished the seemingly impossible. 70 minutes later and Marcos is being rushed to hospital.
Incredibly, despite his heart not beating properly for 1 hour and ten minutes, Marcos survived and is doing well.
With your help we can always go the extra mile to save a life - but we need your continued support to do it.
To help save a life, someone like Marco, donate here.