Woman whose heart stopped on gym running machine is saved by off duty paramedic
A 54-year-old whose heart stopped while she trained on a running machine was called the "luckiest woman alive" after she was saved by an off-duty paramedic using the same gym.
Mary Harris, 54, from Easington, County Durham, received crucial CPR from Mark Syson, despite him having no specialist equipment, after she collapsed.
He had spotted her crumpled on the treadmill and rushed over to help, telling staff at the gym to phone an ambulance.
He pumped her chest and, against the odds, she survived and is now recuperating at home following an operation to replace her aortic valve.
He did around four sets of CPR before she gulped and took a breath.
The surgeon who carried out the operation said she was "the luckiest woman alive", her husband Richard said.
Mr Syson, who works for the North East Ambulance Service, was reunited this week with the woman he saved.
The paramedic said: "I was nervous and slightly embarrassed when meeting Mary and Richard for the first time since the incident.
"As a paramedic we don't normally meet our patients again or their families after they are taken to hospital. It was lovely to see both of them again and especially Mary who seemed in good spirits regardless of what had happened.
"It makes you feel very humble and I'm so pleased I was able to help Mary when she needed it. I wish Mary and her all family all the best."
Mr Harris said: "There wasn't a dry eye in the house. Mary was overjoyed to meet up with Mark.
"He's playing down his role but all the specialists have said unequivocally Mary would have died if he hadn't been there.
"He felt strange meeting someone he has 'worked on' because usually the patient goes into the hospital and that is that, however, I said to him you must feel good knowing you've saved a life and meeting that person again.
"I hope he gets some recognition for his actions because at this incident there was no resuscitator available, as there would be if he was attending an incident when on duty, it was just his prompt action and effective CPR that revived Mary.
"She's recovering well and very grateful to still be alive."
Her father, uncle and grandfather died suddenly aged 49, 55 and 52 and Mr Harris said his wife would have died too without expert help.
He said: "I know Mark is a trained professional and it could be argued that this is his day to day work, however, he had none of the specialist equipment available that he would have had in his daily duties and no other trained staff to assist him.
"The consultant confirmed and my family feel that, but for Mary having Mark there on that day at that time, she would have gone the same way as her father, uncle and granddad. "