A marathon runner who was brought back from the brink of death by a life-saving defibrillator machine says he is ‘very lucky to be here’.
Kevin Twomey, 35, of Grovehill, Hemel Hempstead, was 100 metres from the finishing line during the famous Finchley 20 race at Hillingdon Athletics Club when he collapsed and suffered a cardiac arrest.
Fellow runners rushed to his aid and grabbed the automated external defibrillator (AED) machine – which had only been installed at the club house six months beforehand.
Now super-fit Kevin, who lives with wife Claire, 32, son Harrison, six, and four-week-old daughter Aoife, has returned to the place where he nearly lost his life.
Holding the defibrillator which shocked his heart back into rhythm, Kevin said: “I am very lucky to be here. This definitely saved my life.
“I was on the final sprint and there was no warning and no pain. Everything went grey and I just passed out.”
Fellow runners rushed to Kevin’s aid, including his pal John Morrissey, and club member Nigel Ealand began chest compressions when he realised the father-of-two had stopped breathing.
Kevin, who works as a plasterer, said: “Thank goodness there were medically-trained people on hand. I received CPR within the first eight minutes and a shock within the first 10.”
He was rushed to Hillingdon Hospital before being transferred to the specialist cardiac unit at Harefield Hospital, where it was discovered he had a narrowed artery.
Kevin, who has competed in more than 30 marathons – including New York, Edinburgh and Dublin – and several Olympic triathlons, spent a week in hospital after having a stent fitted.
At the time of Kevin’s collapse, wife Claire was in Portugal but Kevin’s brother Eamonn, 42, and 39-year-old sister Catherine – who had also been competing in the race – rushed to his bedside along with other family members.
Kevin, who grew up in Watford, said: “Before I left for the race, I gave Harrison a kiss and told him I’d be home at lunchtime, but I didn’t come back.
“If it hadn’t have been for the defibrillator, I wouldn’t have ever come back.”
Six months on, Kevin has regular check ups and says doctors are pleased with his progress.
The energetic sports fanatic has not run alone since his health scare, opting instead for more gentle cycling and swimming.
The equipment that saved Kevin’s life had been delivered by manufacturers Cardiac Science in partnership with the London Ambulance Service, who had done some basic life support training with members.
Cardiac Science managing director, Shaun Ingram, said you never know when emergencies will strike.
“You hope never to use an AED, but in this case it did its job.
“It is intuitive to use so even in the heat of the moment a first time rescuer can be talked through the steps. It only ever gives a shock if it needs to.”
David Smith, chairman of Hillingdon Athletic Club, said: “As a club it is our responsibility to show a duty of care to our members and guests so when we received a donation from a former member we spent it on an AED.
“We are so glad now it was in place on the day.”