Cardiac arrest inspires caring couple on quest for new defibrillator in Uppermill

SURVIVING a life-threatening cardiac arrest has inspired a caring couple to raise £1,500 for a new defibrillator in Uppermill.

Audrey Lee, 68, and her husband Graham, 72, began their mission after Graham made a full recovery from a heart attack in April 2018.

He was given only a 0.08 per cent survival rate, one which would have been significantly increased had he been treated with a defibrillator.

Audrey and Graham outside Ebenezer Congregational Church in Uppermill

Audrey explained: “We had been speaking at churches and came home for the afternoon.

“I was going to go for a sleep but decided to sit together and watch TV with a cup of tea. I am so glad we did.

“The phone rang but Graham didn’t move so I got up to answer it. I turned back to look at Graham and saw he wasn’t breathing.

“I phoned 999 and they told me to put him on the floor and do CPR. I did a course about 40 years ago and managed to remember it while the operator talked me through it too.”

Audrey continued CPR for 12-and-a-half minutes until an ambulance, which was delayed by major road works in Oldham, arrived.

She was unable to reach the nearest defibrillator at the Satellite Centre, Greenfield as it was too far away from their home.

Graham was eventually treated at the Royal Oldham and Withington Hospitals, spending seven days in intensive care as he made his remarkable recovery.

“When Graham got home and continued to recover we found there are no defibrillators at this end of Uppermill,” said Audrey.

“There is one at the Civic Hall and one at the police station at the other end but nothing down here and that is too far to go in an emergency.”

So, she encouraged Ebenezer Congregational Church, on School Street, where she became minister last July, to help raise £1,500 to have a defibrillator installed.

The machine will be installed in a yellow box by the church door so it can be opened at any time by anyone with the code from a 999 operator.

So far money has been raised by the church’s charity giving scheme, their Film and Food night, and by donations.

Graham added: “I don’t need to get to a defibrillator now as I have my own fitted! But for everyone else, it is life-saving equipment they will have access to.

“We decided on Uppermill as it’s such a busy village. Hundreds of people come for Yanks, Rushcart and other events. You never know what or when something might happen.”

He continued: “People call out the NHS but I really can’t fault it. I am still here because of it. They nursed me for six weeks and really looked after me.”

The couple have been helped in their quest by Catherine Johnstone, who runs Saddleworth Physiotherapy Clinic on Uppermill High Street.

She is in contact with Saddleworth Round Table and British Heart Foundation about funding to help purchase the waterproof cabinet so the defibrillator can be installed outside.

She explained: “Without this, the AED would be housed inside the building and therefore only available for public use when the church is open.

“Siting it outside is a very generous gesture from the church and would mean it is available 365 days per year.

“The cost of weatherproof casing is around £600. We are still looking for donations from individuals or businesses.”

Catherine has also been co-ordinating free community CPR and AED training sessions over the last two years, hosted by trainers from the North West Ambulance Service.

Ebenezer Church Hall will host upcoming sessions, with the next one on Wednesday, March 6 at 7pm. All are welcome to attend, including children, and just turn up on the night.

Catherine said: “The more people we have who are competent and confident in these life-saving skills, the better the survival rates in our community.”

TALENTED group Entertaining Friends is putting on a concert to raise money for the installation of a defibrillator at Ebenezer Church in Uppermill.

The ‘Affairs Of The Heart’ concert will be held on Saturday, February 2 at the church, starting at 7pm.

Tickets cost £7, including supper, and can be obtained from Audrey at Ebenezer Church or from Colin Watt on 01457 876156 or 07773 570387. All proceeds will do to the defibrillator fund.

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