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Dad who suffered cardiac arrest in front of his children at Jubilee party saved by student neighbour’s CPR

A father-of-three who collapsed during a Jubilee street party in cardiac arrest survived against the odds thanks to a neighbour performing life-saving CPR after his children shouted: “Daddy’s dead.”

Andrew Mace, 44, who works in technology for an investment bank and lives in Otford, Kent, with his wife Sophie, 36, and children Annabelle, 10, Luke, seven, and Alice, two, was diagnosed with Fabry disease, an enzyme deficiency, aged 26.

He had a pacemaker fitted in 2009 and a kidney transplant in 2018.

But in June 2022 during a Jubilee neighbourhood party, Andrew’s family were horrified when he collapsed, suffering a devastating cardiac arrest.

Luckily, Alex Duncan, 21, a medical student at Cambridge University, leapt into action, remembering CPR from a training day three years previously.

Andrew, pictured with his family, collapsed at a Jubilee party on his street in June 2022 (Collect/PA Real Life)
Andrew, pictured with his family, collapsed at a Jubilee party on his street in June 2022 (Collect/PA Real Life)

Paramedics arrived within 15 minutes and thanks to Alex’s quick efforts, they were able to resuscitate Andrew and he was then airlifted to hospital.

The family credit Alex with saving Andrew’s life and are now working with the British Heart Foundation to prompt the public to take a 15-minute CPR course to save a life.

“We’re so thankful for Alex,” said Andrew.

Andrew is now working with the British Heart Foundation to prompt more people to learn CPR (Collect/PA Real Life)
Andrew is now working with the British Heart Foundation to prompt more people to learn CPR (Collect/PA Real Life)

“I’m proof that CPR works, it can bring someone back to their family. I think my wife thought I wasn’t coming back.”

When diagnosed with Fabry disease, Andrew was shaken when medics revealed the impact the condition would have on his life – including needing a pacemaker in June 2009.

Fabry disease is an inherited condition that affects one in 40,000 men. The condition is an enzyme deficiency that means the person affected is not able to break down fats, which then become deposited in their blood vessels and tissue.

“I’d been seeing a renal consultant due to having high protein in my urine,” explained Andrew.

“I then went to UCL hospital to be tested for Fabry and they confirmed it. That’s where they picked up some sinus node damage on my heart, which meant my heart wasn’t beating consistently and would pause for around seven seconds while I slept.

“That’s why I had a pacemaker fitted.”

Andrew recovered in hospital for five days before having an internal defibrillator fitted (Collect/PA Real Life)
Andrew recovered in hospital for five days before having an internal defibrillator fitted (Collect/PA Real Life)

With the condition being genetic, two of Andrew’s children are also closely monitored at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

“I have quite an aggressive strain which Annabelle and Alice have inherited from me,” he explained.

Andrew was airlifted to hospital after he suffered a cardiac arrest (Collect/PA Real Life)
Andrew was airlifted to hospital after he suffered a cardiac arrest (Collect/PA Real Life)

The family were devastated when daughter Lexi died from sepsis at just two days old, and a month later medics revealed Andrew needed a kidney transplant.

“She was born one year before my kidney transplant on the 15th December 2017,” he said.

“She passed away a few days later on the 17th December. A month after Lexi had passed away and after a routine blood test, I was told that my kidney function had deteriorated a lot and I’d have to start considering the transplant route.

“My kidney transplant was on 15th December 2018, which would have been her first birthday. We’re convinced that she was looking after her daddy.”

Devastated by their loss, Andrew and his family focused on raising money for Great Ormond Street Hospital in Lexi’s name as well as on their close-knit family.

But in June 2022, Andrew collapsed during a game of football at the party.

“Outside our house our neighbours’ children had set up some football goals and I was having a little kickabout with them,” he said.

Alex and Andrew’s daughter Annabelle, pictured just moments before Andrew had a cardiac arrest (Collect/PA Real Life)
Alex and Andrew’s daughter Annabelle, pictured just moments before Andrew had a cardiac arrest (Collect/PA Real Life)

“About two minutes in I suddenly felt very dizzy so I went to sit down, but apparently collapsed inside the goal net.

“Luckily, Alex had just come back that afternoon for the party after an exam in the morning.

“Other neighbours called 999 and asked us if there was a defibrillator nearby. There was one at the train station about 50 metres from where we live so they went to get it.

“The next thing I remember is waking up and seeing my neighbour’s face, who was also helping perform CPR, looking at me upside down.

Alex with Andrew’s youngest daughter Alice (Collect/PA Real Life)
Alex with Andrew’s youngest daughter Alice (Collect/PA Real Life)

“The neighbours had moved the children inside. But I gave them a kiss before I got on the air ambulance.”

Airlifted to King’s College Hospital in London, Andrew was quickly fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, a device that sends an electric shock to the heart if it senses the heart beating at a dangerous or abnormal rate.

Alex is glad her first aid training three years ago gave her the knowledge and confidence to save Andrew’s life (Collect/PA Real Life)
Alex is glad her first aid training three years ago gave her the knowledge and confidence to save Andrew’s life (Collect/PA Real Life)

“My wife later explained what had happened,” he said. “I was so grateful for Alex and the other neighbours.

“I was in hospital for five days and then I was transferred to Barts to have my internal defib fitted, or ICD.

“My Fabry consultant has recommended I look at medical retirement because of the potential onset of everything else now I have had a cardiac arrest on top of the kidney transplant.”

According to the British Heart Foundation, there are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK each year, but less than one in 10 people survive, often because those around them do not have the skills or confidence to perform CPR.

Alex and Andrew are now working with the British Heart Foundation to promote its new tool RevivR, which teaches CPR in 15 minutes.

“I wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have people trained in CPR,” said Andrew.

“I can vouch for how crucial it is – you could help save a life and bring someone’s loved one back.”

Alex agrees that learning CPR is the best skill she could acquire.

“I was teaching a class so had to do first aid and I remember at the time thinking that it was a bit tedious, there is no way I’m going to need this,” she said.

Alex performed CPR on Andrew and the family credit her with saving his life (Collect/PA Real Life)
Alex performed CPR on Andrew and the family credit her with saving his life (Collect/PA Real Life)

“It’s crazy to think that actually it was so important and I took it for granted.

“We heard a scream and Annabelle and Luke came running down the road. They were saying ‘daddy’s dead’.

“I just started running. I saw that he was blue and lifeless, so I started CPR. I could see his kids crying and I just thought I have to do something right now.

“It’s why I wanted to be a doctor in the first place, to help people.”