Man whose heart stopped for 21 minutes thanks London medics

A man whose heart stopped beating for 21 minutes has personally thanked the medical team who helped save his life.

Tech entrepreneur Nicolas De Santis said his life was “much more beautiful than it was before” as he thanked the medical team with London Ambulance Service (LAS) who, with the help of his 22-year-old daughter Alaia, saved his life.

LAS described how Nicolas’s near-death experience happened while he was working from home in December 2019.

Feeling a tightness in his chest, Nicolas dismissed it as little more than a cold or infection, but not long afterwards he collapsed in front of Alaia who was fortunately visiting him at the time.

On calling 999, she was talked through the life-saving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) procedure by LAS call handler Elliot.

“When I saw my dad collapse, I knew something severe had happened to him. I had never learnt CPR before, but, I knew I had to act quickly as he was not breathing,” Alaia said.

“The call handler kept me calm and helped talk me through what to do.”

LAS described how Alaia continued the vital chest compressions involved in CPR while LAS medics Kirsty, Junaid, John and Vijay arrived.

Junaid, an Advanced Paramedic Practitioner in Critical Care, described the experience and praised the 22-year-old efforts in helping save her father’s life.

“21 minutes is a very long time for someone’s heart to stop beating,” he said.

“Every second counts when a person is in cardiac arrest and good chest compressions – like those Alaia gave – helps to resupply the heart and brain with vital oxygen.

“Alaia’s quick actions that day truly saved her father’s life.”

Your Local Guardian: Nicolas recovering in hospital. Image: LASNicolas recovering in hospital. Image: LAS

After the medics helped to stabilise Nicolas, they rushed him to hospital where he was put in an induced coma.

He spent a month recovering in an intensive care unit. The doctors later said he had suffered the cardiac arrest because of a blocked coronary artery.

Nicolas said the incident has made him see the world a little differently.

“I left this life for 21 minutes. I realise how lucky I am to be alive, and life really is much more beautiful than it was before.

“The way I see it I came back to understand how precious life really is.”

The father of two visited LAS HQ to meet the staff there that helped to save his life that day.

“It has been so important for me to be able to thank them,” he said.

“Without them I’m not sure I would have survived. I call them my ‘humble heroes’, because they really are heroes and so humble.”

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