Miracle man Les leads call for more defibrillators

By Tim Clarke 14/06 Updated: 17/06 10:00

Buy photos » Thankful - Les Gonzalez is back enjoying his favourite hobby of woodwork after recovering from major heart surgery. Picture by Neville Collins 2112004ncw. Order this picture at www.buyphotos247.com

A FATHER who has completed a miraculous recovery after his life was saved by the use of a defibrillator has called for more of the machines to be stocked in public places.

Les Gonzalez, from Warndon Villages, collapsed when he suffered a cardiac arrest in an IKEA store in Bristol's Eastgate Centre while shopping with his wife Julia in December 2010.

As he lay unconscious quick-thinking staff treated him with a defibrillator, which the store had only just purchased.

They did enough to get the father-of-two's heart started before Mr Gonzalez was rushed to Bristol Royal Infirmary where he spent the next few weeks fighting for his life, while his wife and two daughters Sarah and Joanna and son-in-law Josh kept a bedside vigil.

Despite suffering pneumonia and kidney failure the 59-year old underwent successful surgery to replace a faulty heart valve, before spending the next year battling his way back to health.

The chartered engineer, who had a small defibrillator implanted in his chest in January this year, remains overwhelmed at the support he has received from his family and friends at All Saints Church.

"I was so blessed to have the wonderful support of my family at my bedside in those early critical weeks," he said.

"The church were wonderful too but there's no question the staff at IKEA prevented me from dying. At the time I was travelling long distances for work and this could have happened on the motorway which would have been the end of it."

He is now urging more organisations to invest in the £1,000 defibrillators.

"I would urge the councils, schools and large shops to consider investing in one - if they did I'm sure we could save more lives," he said.

Statistics show 85 per cent of people who suffer a cardiac arrest can have it corrected with defibrillation.

The quicker someone is treated the better chance they have of surviving and making a full recovery.

But a survey by the Standard revealed a mixed picture in Worcester with none of the eight large retailers we questioned, including two major supermarket chains, having them in their stores.

CrownGate Shopping Centre confirmed it did have one which could be at any of its shops within minutes, while all of Worcester's sports centres and Worcester Swimming Pool have defibrillators.

The same cannot be said of County Hall or the Guildhall while those few schools which have them have relied on donations or parents' associations to purchase them.

A spokesman for West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) said they offered training and help in securing grants for organisations wanting to buy a defibrillator.

"The more defibrillators there are out there the better," he said.

"The ones we use even talk you through it and tell you when to give rescue breaths."

To find out more contact WMAS's community response manager Noel Orbell on 07980 094808.

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