“I took myself to Primary Care at King’s Mill and I was standing in the queue at reception when I started to feel really groggy. When I spoke to the receptionist she told me to sit down. She was the first person to realise there was something seriously wrong.”
Jim McRury had woken in the middle of the night with chest pains over the Easter weekend of 2016.
But because a recent medical had told him he had only a 10 per cent chance of suffering a heart attack over the next ten years, he decided to wait until the morning.
“There were no shooting pains going down my arms or legs,” the 55-year-old said. “But the pain made me breathless. We have a young son and a dog and I decided not to wake the household, and went back to sleep.”
In the morning Jim drove himself to hospital and was immediately whisked through, put on a trolley and connected to an ECG to monitor his heart.
“I didn’t know I’d had a heart attack at that point,” Jim said. “I was literally existing on the oxygenated blood that was still in my body.”
From there a doctor accompanied the father-of-two by ambulance to Nottingham City Hospital where he was diagnosed with a ventricular fibrillation - where the heart quivers rather than pumps the blood around the body and leads to cardiac arrest.
Doctors installed a balloon pump to keep Jim’s heart beating, but the only way to treat him when his heartbeat began to rage was to shock him with a defibrillator - sometimes up to 20 times per week.
“We were stuck in a cycle and eventually the registrar got on the phone and spoke to the Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire,” Jim said.
“He discussed my case with them and the outcome was to send me in an attended ambulance to Papworth.
“On my first night, the VF started and although they kept turning the defibrillator up, they could not stop my heart fibrillating.
“I was rushed to theatre and woke up with external pumps at the side of my bed, with pipes taking the blood in and out of my body, attached to my chest.
“At this point I was stable, but in effect, on life support.”
But despite the medical expertise that saved Jim’s life, he said he was equally grateful for the human way he was treated by staff.
They allowed him assisted exercise on a static bike, with nurses holding his pump tubes to prevent them from detaching.
They took him out into the garden, organised discos for Jim and another patient, and cake competitions just for Jim.
One nurse brought him in an XBox, and before Jim received his new heart, he decided to tie the knot with his partner (now wife) Lindsey, 36.
“They couldn’t have done more,” said Jim. “The wedding took four days to arrange and the nurses even raided the stationary cupboard to decorate the ward.
“I had this thing in my neck so they could administer drugs quickly, and the doctor took that out so I could get married in a suit.
“Everything fell into place. They thought at the time that I was going to die.”
Doctors also used Jim as a guinea pig, he said. Because, due to the pumps, he didn’t have a pulse, and medical students were brought to his ward to try and diagnose what was wrong with him.
Now on the mend, the keen biker, from Clipstone, has become a blood bike volunteer, and plans to do a 10,000ft tandem parachute jump on March 23 to raise £1,500 for Papworth.
Jim, who recently retired from his role as an operations manager for Vodaphone, has paid for the jump himself and also wants to pay extra out of his own pocket to have the jump filmed is he reaches his fundraiding target.
To donate, go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jim-mcrury
BLOOD BIKES NEEDS VOLUNTEERS
“What I didn’t realise, and I think what a lot of people don’t realise, is that the Blood Bikes service is staffed completely by volunteers,” Jim said.
“I was at an open day at Mansfield Fire Station with my son Callum [now four] and the Blood Bikes people were there.
“I went over to speak to them and said, ‘How do you get a job as good as this?’, and they explained that they all did it for free.
I’ve always been a biker, so for me getting involved was win-win.”
And it’s not just bikers who are needed, Jim said.
The service also needs car drivers and fundraises.
“It’s an out-of-hours service and, on average Notts Blood Bikes saves the NHS around £20,000 a year,” he said. “Out of hours, hospitals often had to use taxis to transport things around.
“And it’s not just blood either. I didn’t realise until I started that the service also transports milk for premature babies.”
To find out more about Nottinghamshire Blood Bikes, go to http://nottinghamshirebloodbikes.org/