How my heart stopped beating for nearly an hour - but I lived to tell the tale
- Credit: Archant
After her husband's heart suddenly stopped, Gillian Boon had to act quickly to save him.
And it was her quick actions which helped save her husband Edward's life, even after his heart had stopped beating for nearly an hour.
The couple, from Church Farm in Middleton, near King's Lynn, had spent the morning of Saturday, February 4 last year in Hunstanton before they returned home and settled in front of the television.
Edward Boon, now 72, had been watching rugby and Mrs Boon, 73, sat beside him reading a book.
'I suddenly realised he wasn't breathing,' Mrs Boon said.
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'I grabbed the phone and dialled 999 and started chest compressions.
'The lady on the phone kept saying to pull him on the floor but I couldn't move him at all.'
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Mrs Boon continued to resuscitate her husband until the ambulance arrived.
Paramedics then took over and began the long, near-impossible task to get Mr Boon's heart beating
'They got here fairly quickly,' Mrs Boon added.
'They got him on the floor and tried to shock him five times but couldn't get him back.' Paramedic Carl Smith said the ambulance crew had continued to resuscitate Mr Boon for 47mins, with every member working tirelessly to get his pulse back.
They had even used a LUCAS machine - a device which performs uninterrupted chest compressions - during moments of respite.
Their efforts paid off when Mr Boon's pulse came back to a stable rhythm.
Mr Boon was then rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, where he was put into an induced coma. He didn't wake up until five days later.
'I couldn't remember a thing about it,' he said.
'Believe it or not, I was fairly calm but in shock.'
He was later taken to Royal Papworth Hospital, where an internal defibrillator was fitted onto his heart.
Mr Boon survived with no long-term injuries, despite his body and brain being starved of oxygen for almost an hour.
He added: 'My family did worry about brain damage but I have been as well as I was before the incident.'
His wife said: 'The doctors were very straight with me right from the beginning and even said as we were going to the hospital that he is very ill, and that chances of him surviving is very slim. 'My family and I were just brave. There were a lot of people praying for us and the technical skills of the doctors and the support we received kept us going. 'When he woke up, I just felt relieved.'
His miraculous recovery has even come as a surprise to the ambulance crew, who never gave up on him and they have all commended Mrs Boon for increasing his chances of survival. Mr Smith added: 'As soon as someone goes into cardiac arrest, the quicker the resuscitation starts the higher the chances of them surviving.
'Gillian recognised how serious it was and she called us early. She started resuscitation before we go here and that really helped.
'We would normally work on them for about 20mins. If resuscitation hasn't started, we'd quite often not start as the brain has been starved of oxygen for so long.
'After 20mins, the chances of getting people back is very slim but with Edward his heart rhythm was bouncing backwards and forwards. That is why we worked on him for that long, but it is not a common thing.'
Nearly a year later, the paramedics arranged to meet the couple to see how they were getting on.
'Quite often we don't know what happens to people,' said Mr Smith. 'It is really strange to see someone alive when you have only seen them not alive.'
But Mrs Boon said the ambulance crew - Carl Smith, Owen Claydon-Nichol, Carl Webster, Craig Peters, Laura Player and Lorraine Roberts - were welcome to her home for tea and cakes and she hoped the reunions continue every year, adding: 'They have been absolutely wonderful with us.'