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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Sarah Ward & Laura Sharman

Dad nearly died after his heart stopped twice during first ever asthma attack

A dad nearly died after his heart stopped twice during his first ever asthma attack.

Jamie Bell, 36, was put in an induced coma following the life-threatening attack.

The 36-year-old had been celebrating his son Felix's first birthday when he woke up in the middle of the night struggling to breathe.

His wife Steph, 29, dialled 999 while Jamie tried to get outside for some fresh air and suffered two cardiac arrests.

Steph recalled Jamie crying "help me" as he slipped out of consciousness, and was blue-lighted to the Royal United Hospital in Bath.

The couple, who are expecting their second child, were staying at her parents' house in Bath, Somerset, when the nightmare unfolded in July last year.

Jamie Bell with wife Steph (Steph Bell / SWNS)
Jamie recovering from the asthma attack (Steph Bell / SWNS)

Jamie said he felt lucky to be alive, despite suffering a broken sternum and several ribs while receiving CPR.

The chartered building surveyor suffered from hayfever, which triggered the asthma attack, but had never had one before.

Nevertheless, he was getting through two Ventolin inhalers a month to manage his 'mild' condition.

Medics put Jamie in an induced coma as a last resort, but feared he may be brain damaged due to his heart having stopped.

Jamie said: "We went down to see Steph's parents and drove down after our son's first birthday.

"It is always bad at that time of year, I have always thought it was because of hayfever.

Jamie and his son Felix (Steph Bell / SWNS)

"Usually I would expect to get through it but it was uncomfortable.

"I'd never had an asthma attack before."

The day before, Jamie wasn't feeling very well but didn't take any notice.

"My heart stopped at the point where the paramedics arrived.

"My sternum was fractured and a couple of ribs were broken from effective CPR. It was a crazy experience.

"I went into cardiac arrest twice, my heart stopped for two minutes.

"They injected me with adrenaline and it stopped for two minutes after that.

"They were there within five minutes, if it had been another 30 seconds it would probably have been lights out.

"Next thing I woke up with tubes in my nose.

"Steph was asking me when her birthday was because they said my memory might be impacted by cardiac arrest.

"I gave her a false date just to wind her up."

Jamie, who would use a Ventolin inhaler after going for a run or playing football, said if someone had told him what was going to happen, he would have laughed.

Steph, who works as a Maths tutor, had counselling for PTSD after the horror illness.

She ensured Jamie was able to watch the EURO 2020s in the ICU and chatted to him relentlessly.

Jamie, who lives in Gullane, East Lothian, now has check-ups at a hospital rather than with a GP and said he believes his asthma was "mismanaged" and admits he didn't take it very seriously previously.

He said: "It's been quite a long road to recovery but my breathing is better than it ever has been for 20 years.

"I'm out running and playing football without using an inhaler.

"If you'd told me I'd suffer my first asthma attack and end up in a coma, I would have laughed at you. It just seemed ridiculous."

He now has an inhaler with steroids and believes more education is needed on how to manage asthma, beyond simply relieving the symptoms of it.

Steph, who was not allowed to accompany Jamie in the ambulance due to Covid restrictions, was warned that the process of hooking him up to a ventilator could be fatal.

She praised medics who she said gave her no false hope about the situation.

The couple raised nearly £15,000 for Asthma Lung UK.

Steph said: "He saw the ambulance outside and he had to get to it. He pretty much passed out and his heart stopped.

"Just before he passed out he saw the ambulance and said 'help me'."

After being in an induced coma for 24 hours, Jamie spent another five days in hospital.

Steph added: "When he came round from the coma he still managed to have a bit of his humour.

"He came out five days later with a fractured sternum and broken ribs which was the best possible outcome.

"It was such a horrible time. They were all so professional and saved Jamie's life."

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