Former mayor's heart miracle

When a town mayor raised money for life-saving heart equipment at the local doctor's surgery, little did he realise he would be helping to save his own life.

When a town mayor raised money for life-saving heart equipment at the local doctor's surgery, little did he realise he would be helping to save his own life.

But Ken Cracknell had cause to be grateful for his own fundraising efforts when his heart stopped at the same doctor's surgery - 17 years after he had presented it with a defibrillator.

Now back at home in Beccles and recovered from his brush with death, he is still amazed by the turn of events that saved his life. And yesterday, to mark his return to health, Mr Cracknell was reunited with the ambulance staff who helped to treat him, for the first time since the day his heart stopped three times.

Mr Cracknell, who worked for Anglia Television for 25 years as a chef and catering manager, said: “Isn't it incredible that I should receive treatment with something I had done? The nurses and doctors could barely believe I had been brought round with my own defibrillator.”

The 80-year-old was on his way to Beccles Medical Centre for an appointment with GP Glen Collins on December 18 when he started to feel unwell.

Mr Cracknell said: “Dr Collins said, 'We had better start by taking your blood pressure,' and that was the last I knew about it. All I remember is voices saying 'Ken, Ken, Ken', and flashes of things like people in yellow waistcoats bending over me.

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“Apparently I went three times. The doctor said I died for 10 minutes. It made me feel funny, that did.”

The grandfather of two could not have collapsed in a better place. Not only was he in the care of his GP, Dr Collins was able to use the on-site defibrillator to restart his heart. The surgery was one of the first in the country to get a defibrillator - which Mr Cracknell himself presented in 1990 after raising £25,000 for heart care equipment in his first term as mayor.

Four minutes later Rob Lawrence, chief operating officer for the ambulance service in Suffolk, arrived on scene, followed swiftly by paramedic Rob Chalk and ambulance emergency technician Jenny Burrage. Mr Cracknell's heart was to stop twice more, requiring another shock from the defibrillator, but the third time it restarted itself. He spent Christmas in the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston, before being transferred to Papworth Hospital where he was fitted with an automatic internal defibrillator.

In a touching reunion yesterday, he told paramedics: “I have got a lot to thank you for, really and truly I have.”

Mr Lawrence told him: “You were a fighter, you weren't ready to leave us.”

Dr Collins said: “It was a massive team effort. The exceptional thing is that he didn't arrest once, he did it three times. The chances of someone coming out of hospital after a cardiac arrest is one in 10. The chances of that happening three times are incredibly rare. He did it at the right time and in the right place.”

Mr Lawrence said: “The most touching thing is that it is the equipment that he started off that had done full circle. It is unbelievable. As we were resuscitating him, Glen said it was his own kit and we were so shocked, we just looked at each other and said 'wow' and then we carried on. No-one could believe it.”

Mr Cracknell said: “It really took a lot out of me but I am here and I am alive. It is a marvellous story.”