A woman has spoken of her panicked 999 call after her partner’s heart stopped beating as they lay in bed with a cup of tea.
Sally Hornsey, from Hampton, London, was enjoying a quiet morning with Brian Livesey when she suddenly noticed he’d made a strange sound before he was ‘just gone’.
Grabbing the phone, the 67-year-old quickly dialled 999 and an amazing call handler from the London Ambulance Service guided her through CPR to save her partner’s life.
Brian was rushed to hospital where doctors discovered he’d had a cardiac arrest and had to perform surgery.
Back home and not allowed into the hospital due to Covid restrictions, Sally was worried sick about her other half.
But luckily Brian, 68, pulled through and has made an incredible recovery.
And although Sally had knocked Brian back three times before in their 25 years together, he plucked up the courage to ask her to marry him one more time.
This time – whilst also in bed having a cup of tea – she said yes and now the couple from Hampton are hoping to tie the knot in the summer.
Speaking to the Mirror Online about Brian’s cardiac arrest, Sally said: “I was completely shocked, I was shrieking, absolutely shrieking.
“I wasn’t thinking about anything other than what I was dealing with at the time. It was instinct and I was living on adrenalin.
“It was worse when Brian was in hospital and I had questions in my mind like ‘am I going to be asked to turn off his life support,’ ‘is he going to come home in a [vegetative state], ‘will he be able to walk and talk’.
“The first few days was horrific. I suddenly didn’t know what my role as a partner was going to be for the rest of my life.”
Sally said Brian’s cardiac arrest happened in the morning as they lay awake in bed.
She said there had been no warning signs at all.
“Brian was completely normal, he’d got a cup of tea as normal,” she remembered.
“He made a strange sound, it was like a snort, and he had just gone. He had stopped breathing and he had gone.
“Luckily I had the phone by the bed and called 999 and they put me through very quickly. I was asked some questions very quickly about what he was doing, which was nothing.
“The young man on the phone was amazing, I was scared enough already, but he made the instructions crystal clear and was cool headed.
“I followed his instructions – first I had to get Brian off the bed, he was a dead weight and I’m 5ft 2 but quite fit for my age.
“The man on the phone was saying ‘get him on the floor’ and he told me where to put my hands which I sort of knew from TV programmes even though I had never had any training.”
Sally continued: “He counted the rhythm with me. I was counting with him, shrieking down the phone.
“Brian was making snorty noises so I was doing something. The call handler was saying they were at the end of the road and reassuring me.
“I had to run down down two flights of stairs to let the ambulance crew in then ran back upstairs on autopilot.”
Sally said five teams of paramedics turned up and took over the CPR.
“Brian doesn’t remember any of it but it was horrible to watch,” she said. “They gave him countless shocks with a defibrillator, it took quite a lot of time.”
Sally said more teams arrived and as she stood on the landing she was “on another planet”.
She was allowed to go in the ambulance with him to St George’s Hospital in Tooting, London, but had to leave him there.
“It was very very scary,” Sally said.
“I didn’t know whether I would even see him again, the next few days were horrible.
“He was put under sedation and I couldn’t go in with him because of Covid restrictions.”
Brian added: “I was straight to theatre, they discovered I had a heart problem. They put a stent in one of the arteries and discovered I’d had a [cardiac arrest].
“I was in ICU for about five days, then on a ward. I came home eight days later.”
Brian began his recovery journey, slowly increasing his walking over the next few weeks.
He said he was very sore but gradually that feeling faded and it was just a ‘matter of getting his strength back’.
“The treatment I got from the NHS couldn’t have been better. I suffered no ill effects, I’m exactly the same as I was before,” he said.
“The only difference is that we are engaged!”
Sally had never accepted his three marriage proposals as they were always happy as they were, but after she thought she’d lost him things changed.
Brian added: “I always say I would die for her – I literally did die for her. “
Brian said he is “living proof CPR can work” and said the London Ambulance Service team was exceptional.