A father-of-two who narrowly avoided catastrophe after being taken ill while on the A1 says he still coming to terms with his brush with mortality.
David Brind was traveling from work when he became concerned that he could feel tightness in his chest.
He pulled off the A1 near Cramlington and later woke up in a hospital bed after suffering a cardiac arrest at the entrance to Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital.
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Mr Brind, from Morpeth, said: "I remember seeing my wife, Claire standing over me. Instantly I knew that something very serious had happened.
"Looking back, there were no warning signs. I had a good diet, didn’t smoke and enjoyed the occasional drink. The whole event still shocks me today.
"In reality, I could have left my children without a dad. I have since learned to switch my mentality around and appreciate life more."
The 48-year-old later found out that medics spent 20 minutes carrying out CPR and used a defibrillator four times to help restart his heart after the collapse in August 2017.
He was then rushed to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, where he had four stents fitted to help improve the blood flow to his heart, before he woke up in intensive care.
The chief finance officer, who was 44 at the time, added: "I had woken up that morning feeling fine and went to work as normal. It was then I started to feel a little unwell.
"I had been on holiday the day before with the kids, so thought it was a virus I had picked up.
"But when I felt a tightness in my chest, I knew something wasn’t right.
"I was driving on the A1 at the time and remembered that they had recently opened the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington, so I pulled off the nearest junction to get checked out.
"I parked up, then walked into the hospital and I remember seeing a sign that said A&E reception.
"I took about three steps forward, and the next memory I have is waking up in a hospital bed."
After leaving hospital, Mr Brind slowly built up his fitness, mainly thanks to cardiac rehabilitation.
Following this, along with his good friend Stuart Jackson, he threw himself into fundraising for the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
He participated twice in the charity’s Hadrian Wall Hike and then, alongside other friends, the Glasgow to Edinburgh 100km challenge.
This inspired Mr Brind and Mr Jackson to consider ways to raise more funds for the BHF’s life saving research into heart and circulatory diseases.
And now he has launched Heart of the Tyne, a North East drive to raise £60,000 for BHF during the charity’s 60th birthday year.
Organisations will be free to organise their own fundraising events, but there are plans to arrange a race day and a dragon boat race to raise further funds.
In return, organisations will be provided with heart health resources, with staff also given CPR training to learn vital, life-saving skills.
Local businesses that have already signed up include Kitwave, Muckle LLP and TMP Wealth Management, with each pledging £5,000.
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"As well as raising much-needed funds, we also want to raise awareness and improve education around heart and circulatory diseases," said Mr Brind, who following further procedures has now had a total of nine stents fitted to improve the blood flow to his heart.
He added: "I am evidence that these conditions can affect anyone, and the fact I am here today is something I can never repay.
"Getting more businesses on board will help fund the BHF’s research to save and improve lives, so on the year the BHF turns 60, we urgently need more local organisations to join this partnership."
In the North East of England alone, around 360,000 people are living with a heart and circulatory disease.
Tragically, every 70 minutes, someone in the region sadly dies from one of these conditions.
Carolyn Reynolds, BHF’s Fundraising Manager, said: "After such an incredibly difficult year, we are so grateful that David has chosen to launch this partnership in aid of the BHF.
"Our aim at the BHF is to save and improve lives, and some of our life saving work is being carried out right here in the city.
"Please do get in touch if your business would like to help us raise more funds for our vital research."
She added: "This year, the BHF is marking 60 years of funding pioneering research.
"Covid-19 dealt a brutal blow to our work and caused our investment in new research to be cut in half last year.
"We can only fund this life saving research thanks to the generous support of people like David, so in our 60th year, we hope we can rely on the generosity of local businesses to help us to further our research and beat heartbreak right here in Tyneside."
Businesses looking to join Heart of the Tyne can contact Carolyn Reynolds, BHF’s Fundraising Manager, by emailing [email protected] or calling 07384 253613.
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