You saved my life

PUBLISHED: 10:24 21 September 2006 | UPDATED: 14:49 12 May 2010

Graham Atkins with his partner Naomi Nanayakkara - Pic: Dick Harding

Graham Atkins with his partner Naomi Nanayakkara - Pic: Dick Harding

A MAN who suffered a heart attack while out running wants to raise awareness of the ambulance service who saved his life. Graham Atkins of Heathfields, Royston collapsed opposite Therfield Heath with a condition called Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome (SA

A MAN who suffered a heart attack while out running wants to raise awareness of the ambulance service who saved his life.

Graham Atkins of Heathfields, Royston collapsed opposite Therfield Heath with a condition called Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome (SADS).

SADS is a disorder of the electrical sysytem of the heart, that can lead to the death of apparently young healthy people - without any warning.

At 32, Graham, who has been a sports enthusiast since his early teens, appeared to be in good physical condition.

The problem occurs as abnormal heart rhythm causes blood from the heart to stop pumping and in turn, causes sudden loss of conciousness and sudden death.

He said: "I was out on a morning run and suddenly collapsed like a sack of spuds."

A couple drove past as the incident happened and went to his aid.

Sam Hogg of Shop On The Corner put Graham in the recovery position. He said: "I looked in my mirror and saw Graham fall to the ground.

"It was very scary. I coped when it was happening because you just do what you have got to do, but it was terrible afterwards, because I didn't know if he was dead or alive after he had been taken to hospital."

Mr Hogg said without the ambulance attending the scene so promptly, Mr Atkins could have died.

He said: "The ambulance was very valuable and attended the scene within a matter of minutes. Had the ambulance been unavailable or in another part of the county, Graham could have died.

"Even if the ambulance is only used once every 365 days to save a life then surely that is a good enough reason to let it stay."

Graham knows that if it wasn't for the quick thinking ambulance crew, he wouldn't be around to tell this story.

He understands just how important their service is and wants people to realise that without them in close proximity, lives could be lost.

Graham said: "I want to raise awareness of the ambulance service. Without them I would have been dead, but people don't appreciate it until they need them.

"They really do save lives and cutting the service doesn't compare to saving lives. They need at least one ambulance in every town."

Graham's partner of ten years, Naomi Nanayakkara, 28, said: "The doctors and nurses said that the ambulance crew certainly saved Graham's life. We are incredibly grateful to them and Mr Hogg for showing such initiative."

Graham spent two weeks in hospital, where a series of intensive tests were carried out - and they all came back negative.

But he was told that the left side of his heart was slightly enlarged due to over-exertion at a young age.

He said: "From the age of 15 I used to run 50 miles a week. It was one of my motivations because I thought it would make me healthier. So I have learned a few lessons and will keep my pulse rate down in the future."

Naomi, who is also a keen runner, said: "He's going to have regular check ups and for the time being he's got to take things easy.

"The doctor has told him he can go back to exercising, but when he does I'm going to be keeping a close eye on him. "Since that day we have both realised just how precious life really is."

Graham added: "When you're on a ward surrounded by people on the verge of death, it certainly changes your perspective and makes you appreciate people and life.

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