Bystanders save expat's life who suffered cardiac arrest at Abu Dhabi parking lot

Bystanders save expat's life who suffered cardiac arrest at Abu Dhabi parking lot
Bystanders save expat's life who suffered cardiac arrest at Abu Dhabi parking lot

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Nevin Al Sukari - Abu Dhabi - Picture used for illustration.

A UK national who collapsed in an Abu Dhabi car park after suffering a massive heart attack had his life saved by the quick reactions of bystanders and quick emergency medical care.

Bystanders immediately responded to UK national Leigh Lenaghan when he collapsed, starting cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), calling an ambulance and applying an automated external defibrillator (AED).

The AED detected a dangerous heart rhythm and delivered a shock to his heart to correct it.

Ten minutes after his collapse, an ambulance arrived and took Leigh to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s emergency department, where he was placed on a ventilator.

An electrocardiogram showed he had suffered a major heart attack and he was rushed to the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab, where he received an angioplasty and stenting to unblock his artery and restore blood flow to his heart.

"Leigh is lucky to be alive. The type of heart attack he had is so serious that it is commonly called a ‘widowmaker’. If it hadn’t been for the quick thinking of those around him, this story of recovery would have become a tragedy. Once he arrived, we were able to provide the life-saving care he needed quickly, much faster than the average time set out by international standards,” says Dr Faisal Hasan, an interventional cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

Following his treatment, Leigh, 55, who works as an architect in the capital, has made a complete recovery. An unwelcomed side effect of his heart attack was the burns on his legs he suffered as a result of collapsing onto concrete in the middle of a hot summer day.

"I never thought something like this could happen to me. I’d had some twinges in my chest before, but I always put it down to indigestion. I’m so thankful to everyone who helped save my life, from the employees at the car park to the paramedics and my care team here. I hope that I can serve as an example to people and encourage them to take a more active interest in their health. Regular health checks should be a normal part of life,” says Leigh. 

Leigh’s story is made all the more remarkable by the fact that he is part of a small percentage of people who go into cardiac arrest outside a hospital to survive the experience.

"One of the key lessons we can take away from Leigh’s case is how important it is that people know what to do in an emergency like this. At every step of his journey, people responded quickly and correctly, getting him to the care he needed, which was critical to saving his life. During cardiac arrest, the blood flow to the brain is interrupted which can cause brain damage followed by death within just a few minutes,” says Dr. Hasan.

Looking ahead, Leigh is keen to turn his traumatic experience into a positive. His lifestyle had increased his risk of heart disease, something he is keen to change.

"This experience has given me a real opportunity to examine my life. From now on I’m going to try and focus on what’s truly important in life. I’ve stopped smoking and I’m going to start getting regular exercise, reduce my stress levels and live a more balanced lifestyle,” concludes Leigh.

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