'Hero' doctors praised for saving man's life during 10K race

Posted on Tuesday 27 June 2017
Paul Alexander thanks Evelina London doctors for saving his life

Paul Alexander was reunited with Rachael Mitchell (left) and Claire Barker (right) at St Thomas' Hospital days after they saved his life.

A father of two who had a cardiac arrest during a 10K race has thanked the doctors who were also taking part in the event for stopping to save his life.

Paul Alexander, 44, collapsed around 40 minutes into the Vitality London 10K on Monday 29 May. Luckily two doctors from Evelina London Children’s Hospital were also participating to raise money for the hospital, and were shortly behind him.

Claire Barker and Rachael Mitchell, who both work in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at Evelina London, saw Paul lying on the ground and administered CPR. Working with an A&E consultant from King’s College Hospital and a paramedic who were also on the scene, they used a defibrillator from a rapid response car to shock his heart, which made it start beating again.

Paul, a retail manager from Sandhurst in Berkshire, was then rushed by ambulance to St Thomas’ Hospital which is part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust – the same trust as Evelina London.

Days later, once Paul was no longer critically ill, they were reunited at his bedside at St Thomas’ along with Paul’s wife Sarah, 41.

Paul, who has no memory of the race, said: “I was very lucky that the doctors happened to be there and that I was faster than them!  They’re my heroes for saving my life and it was amazing, and very emotional, to meet them. It was incredible that they felt the responsibility to stop and help someone else – not everyone would. I’m so grateful.”

Claire said: “What happened to Paul really shows how important it is to know how to give CPR effectively. If Paul’s blood hadn’t been pumped around for a while through CPR, the shock from the defibrillator wouldn’t have worked and his heart would not have started beating again.”

Rachael added: “It felt very different helping someone who needed urgent medical treatment out on the street rather than in the hospital setting that we’re used to. We're so pleased that we were able to use our skills to make sure Paul survived and it was great to be reunited with Paul to see his improvement.”

Paul has undergone many tests and doctors believe he may have cardiomyopathy, a disease that has caused his heart to become enlarged. He has had an ablation procedure and has been fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), which helps to treat irregular heartbeat. Paul is awaiting further tests to find out whether his condition is genetic.

He added: “I feel incredibly lucky. I often run alone in the woods near my home and this could have happened anywhere so I’m lucky it happened in a race when there were people behind me who knew what they were doing.”

There are many ways to show support for Evelina London such as taking on a personal challenge. Visit www.supportevelina.org.uk/challenge.

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