Published: 13:08, 23 June 2021
| Updated: 14:56, 23 June 2021
The family of a man who suffered a cardiac arrest at a gym and was brought back to life has called for more defibrillators to be installed at sports venues.
Teaching assistant Vinnie Brett, 38, has since been fitted with a heart-starting device like Denmark footballer Christian Eriksen who collapsed on the pitch during the Euros.
Mr Brett suddenly fell to the floor while he was coaching at Club 13 Boxing in Margate after concerns he was overheating.
Those around him soon realised he was not breathing and immediately started CPR as horrified members watched the incident unfold on June 7.
Paramedics were there within four minutes and shocked Mr Brett twice with a defibrillator, with no response.
But he was brought back to life on the third attempt after collapsing 10 minutes earlier and was taken to QEQM Hospital where he was put in an induced coma - with his family uncertain if he would survive.
He was transferred to Royal Brompton Hospital in Chelsea, which specialises in heart disease, and was fitted with an ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator).
Eriksen was fitted with the same device after he collapsed during the match with Finland.
Mr Brett, who is from Ramsgate and was born with chronic heart disease, was discharged from hospital last week but is unable to return to his job at St George's School for six weeks as he recovers.
"It didn’t sink in for a few days when I came out of the coma and I don’t think it really has now," he said.
"I didn’t know the severity of what had happened. The day I was discharged from hospital, I presumed I would be back to work the next week but they said I didn’t understand how serious it was.
"Because that was the 16th operation on my heart, I presumed it would be a couple of weeks off and be back to normal. But unfortunately it’s going to be a long road ahead."
"It is imperative more is done to raise awareness and campaign for legislative change to ensure peace of mind, improve survival rates and prevent the pain caused by the realities of losing a loved one to cardiac arrest."
After the dad-of-one's collapse, his partner Amy Waller and her brother Matt launched a fundraiser for a defibrillator at Club 13, and his school agreed to funding it.
But now they are working with Thanet Community Lifesavers to find where in the district the potentially lifesaving devices are needed.
Mr Brett has thanked head coach Andy Morris, assistant coach Mark Anderson and member Wayne Linton for all playing a part in saving his life – as well as the medics.
The volunteer coach added: "When I was born, I was given six weeks to live and had an operation when I was five.
"In 2008, I had a 23-hour operation and the surgeons gave me a 30% chance of survival."
Just one in 10 people survive a cardiac arrest, according to the British Heart Foundation.
The fundraiser launched by Mr Brett's family states: "Sadly, UK law does not require health and fitness facilities to house defibrillators.
"Therefore, it is imperative that more is done to raise awareness and campaign for legislative change to ensure peace of mind, improve survival rates, and prevent the pain caused by the realities of losing a loved one to cardiac arrest."