A mum’s life was saved when her husband woke up to find her dead on Boxing Day morning.
Jenna Good, 32, had suffered a cardiac arrest and her heart stopped for at least 14 minutes while her husband, Russ, performed CPR.
After a full day of enjoying their first Christmas Day at home with their newborn son Charlie, now two years old, Jenna and Russ retired to bed, exhausted.
But just hours later, at 3am on Boxing Day morning 2021, Russ was woken, sensing something wasn’t quite right – Jenna had stopped breathing, The Sun reported.
Jenna, a secondary school teacher from Staines, said: “We’ve been together since we were 15, so know each other inside out – Russ must’ve had a sixth sense that woke him up.
“Russ shook me, but I didn’t respond. Nothing would wake me, and knowing my heart had stopped, he dragged me onto the floor and started doing CPR to get me breathing again.
“With our three-week-old baby Charlie fast asleep and oblivious to my predicament in the room next door, Russ reached to his phone which he put on loud speaker to call 999 while he carried on with the chest compressions.
“Also screaming in case he could wake any neighbours for help, Russ knew he had no choice but to keep trying to save my life.”
Cardiac arrest is when the heart stops beating suddenly, causing a person to go unconscious, unresponsive and stop breathing.
Without immediate treatment, it can quickly lead to death
Nine in 10 people who suffer cardiac arrest out of hospital – 25,000 per year in Australia – die.
Performing arts technician Russ, 31, said: “Those were the longest 14 minutes of my life, seeing Jenna convulsing, coughing up blood – I was in complete shock and really did think it was game over.
“A team of six paramedics arrived in three ambulances and took over – even though I hadn’t managed to get Jenna’s breathing to start again, by pumping the blood around her body I was told I’d saved her life by keeping fresh oxygen going to her brain.”
The paramedics had to use a defibrillator twice to get Jenna’s heart to start again, before rushing her into an ambulance.
“Semi-conscious, the last words I said to Russ were ‘Help me’.”
Doctors at St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey described Jenna’s survival as ‘miraculous’.
Jenna said: “The chances of survival after a heart stops for 14 minutes is just four per cent, they told us – and for me to have suffered no brain damage, the chances of a tiny fraction of that.
“If Russ had woken up just a few minutes later, if he’d stopped CPR after 10 minutes when it seemed I was dead and the paramedics hadn’t arrived yet – Russ isn’t just my lifesaving hero, he’s given Charlie his mum back.”
Heart conditions or defects can lead to cardiac arrest, but often it occurs with no obvious cause.
Jenna had suffered an irregular heartbeat for years, but doctors had not been concerned.
She said: “It had been Russ who had first noticed my irregular heartbeat back in 2014 while we cuddled on the sofa.
“But while the issue was officially diagnosed then, medics assured me I had nothing to worry about, sending me home with no medication or treatment pathway.
“There was no history of heart issues in my family, and by last Christmas my irregular heartbeat really wasn’t on our radar at all.
“We’d enjoyed a simply lovely day at home cuddling Charlie with our presents, and I’d gone to bed feeling absolutely fine!”
Jenna says she was “fit and healthy” by the time family were able to visit later on Boxing Day.
She was transferred to Harefield Hospital on New Year’s Eve, where she was fitted with an implanted defibrillator which monitors her heartbeat and can shock her heart back into a regular rhythm if needs be.
‘Lucky to have him’
She also was diagnosed with a separate heart condition called benign ectopic beats.
Jenna says: “I have a monitor next to my bed which feeds back my heartbeat pattern to the cardiologist team at Harefield, but through 2022 and 2023 I’ve been fine.
“The doctors say there’s no reason I can’t live a long, healthy, normal life, which is amazing to hear when you’ve got a baby, and so many plans.”
Also on beta blocker medication for life to stabilise abnormal heart rhythms, Jenna has been told her heart function is now 51 per cent, the average range being 40-70 per cent.
She has yearly check-ups and is says her medication load is slowly lowering as her condition seems to have stabilised.
“We still don’t know specifically what caused my cardiac arrest,” Jenna said.
“It could be linked to having had a Covid vaccination just a week earlier, it could be linked to giving birth to Charlie, it could be my benign ectopic beats somehow combining with my irregular heart beat.
“All we do know is how incredibly lucky I am to have a husband so in-tune with my heart that he woke up straight away and wouldn’t give up the CPR when all hope seemed gone.”
This festive season, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) is urging people to donate to the charity to help fund its lifesaving research into heart and circulatory diseases.
The charity’s ‘gift that keeps on living’ campaign is highlighting stories like Jenna’s to show how vital the British Heart Foundation’s research is.
Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive, said: “Our research has turned ideas that once seemed like ‘science fiction’ into treatments and cures that save lives every day.
“But despite all our progress, millions of people are still waiting for the scientific breakthroughs of tomorrow.
“It is only thanks to the generosity of our supporters that we can give hope to people like Jenna. Donations to the BHF fund vital research to drive progress and give people the gift of more time with the people they love.”
This story originally appeared in The Sun and reproduced with permission