February 18, 2016 0 comments

Why did his heart stop? Malcolm’s story


Last September Malcolm Philp and his wife Vicki were planning their move from Adelaide to the Gold Coast to start their new adventure into the world of a long awaited retirement.

One afternoon, only a week away from their pending move, Malcolm picked up his car keys to run some errands and Vicki noticed something was wrong with her husband.

“I said to Malcolm, ‘Do you want me to come with you?’ and he was just standing there. He put his hand to his forehead and shut his eyes. I went over and held him and said ‘What’s the matter?’ but he wasn’t responding. And then we both fell down to the floor,” Vicki said.

For Vicki it all happened so fast, one minute she was having an everyday conversation with her husband and the next she watched the life drain out of him as his heart began failing.

“I checked his airways and rolled him over to the recovery position as best I could and then I realised he had no pulse and wasn’t breathing,” she said

Malcolm and Vicki enjoying Christmas with their son Brad and wife Stacy.

Malcolm and Vicki enjoying Christmas with their son Brad and wife Stacy.

“I tried to dial 000 and couldn’t get it happening so I ran outside and screamed to my neighbour to ring an ambulance. Her Mum and Dad were over from Port Lincoln and amazingly her Mum is a registered nurse. It was then we started CPR on Malcolm.”

While waiting for the ambulance the four of them worked on Malcolm for over ten minutes.

“We were trying to keep it together and trying to do the compressions as instructed from 000. At one stage his face was bright purple and I screamed out ‘harder and faster, he’s purple, he’s purple’. Looking at him I thought he’s going to die right here in my arms.”

When the two ambulances arrived, the four paramedics worked on Malcolm. As they continued CPR, they cut open his clothing. The defibrillator failed to start his heart the first two times.

“The third time they used the defibrillator they got a response but the paramedic said to me ‘your husband is gravely, gravely ill’ and I knew he was trying to tell me Malcolm might not make it.”

Finally at 10pm that evening, Vicki was able to see Malcolm again and the Cardiologist explained that Malcolm had experienced a life threatening episode where his heart had stopped.

Malcolm spent the next three days in Intensive Care and then another three in the Coronary Ward where he underwent a number of tests that revealed he had a seemingly healthy heart.

“The doctors said there is absolutely nothing wrong with the plumbing of his heart, his arteries are in pristine condition – it’s like he bought a new set this morning,” Vicki said.

Despite undergoing a number of tests, there is still no conclusive answer as to why Malcolm’s heart stopped beating that day.

Luckily, thanks to continuous heart research and advances in treatment, Malcolm now has an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) attached to his heart and has been able to resume his life as normal.

Finally moving to sunny Queensland, the lovely couple are now enjoying their retirement, remaining strong advocates for the importance of heart research to solve mysteries like Malcolm’s.

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