Sunday, March 20, 2011

British man with Down syndrome learns CPR from TV show, saves friend's life

From Manchester Evening News in the UK:

A man with Down’s Syndrome saved the life of his best friend – after learning resuscitation techniques by watching TV’s Casualty.

Gerard McKenna (pictured) was walking with Stephen Chard (pictured) to their favourite takeaway when Stephen suffered chest pains and collapsed. Gerard, who is only 5’, caught 6’1” Stephen and lowered him to the ground, before putting him into the recovery position and giving him chest compressions.

He continued to care for Stephen as takeaway staff called 999, using skills he had picked up from BBC1 show Casualty and especially from his favourite character – nurse Charlie Fairhead. Stephen was rushed to hospital and had a double bypass and valve replacement operation.

Gerard, 35, from Gorton, said: “I did not want him to die, I wanted to try and save him. I did what Charlie Fairhead would do.”

His heroic efforts impressed paramedics and doctors, and were even recorded in Stephen’s medical notes.

Stephen, 49, an HGV driver from Levenshulme, is now recovering from his operation at home and hailed Gerard a hero.

Stephen, who had no previous history of heart disease, said: “He is a hero to me. I don’t know what would have happened if he was not there.

“I had no idea there was anything wrong with me. I don’t remember arriving at the takeaway and I didn’t know what Gerard had done until I overhead some nurses telling the doctor when I woke up in hospital.”

Edward McLaughlin, Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon at Manchester Royal Infirmary said: “When Stephen collapsed, Gerard provided the immediate CPR care he needed. We were extremely impressed by Gerard’s quick thinking and his actions until the paramedics arrived.

“It was due to this that Stephen was then able to have urgent aortic valve replacement and coronary artery bypass surgery and we are extremely pleased that Stephen has since made a full recovery.”

Gerard attends the Ellen Kerr House day centre in Gorton has a busy social life.

He doesn’t watch much TV but loves Casualty and Prisoner Cell Block H.

Gerard’s sister Adele was stunned to hear how calm and confident he had been whilst carrying out the first aid.

She said: “When I had a phone call from the paramedics I thought something had happened to Gerard.

“When they told me he had probably saved Stephen’s life I couldn’t believe it.

“Gerard is very proud but I don’t know if he realises quite what an amazing thing he has done – he does however want us to call him Charlie Fairhead!”