Gooner who survived 'widow maker' heart attack at Arsenal v Tottenham meets medics who saved his life
PUBLISHED: 15:15 21 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:15 21 March 2019
This is the moment an Arsenal fan who suffered a “widow maker” heart attack during the north London derby was reunited with the hero medics who saved his life.
Bruce McKenzie, 55, had been cheering on his beloved Gunners during a charged match against arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur on December 2 – when he had heart attack at half-time.
He says the swift actions of on-site medical staff, the London Ambulance Service and doctors at the Royal Free Hospital are the reasons he’s still alive.
“I had this instinct,” he told the Gazette. “Like a voice in my head that said I had to get this pain in my chest seen to. It may sound weird but apparently it’s a common thing in heart attack victims.
“I went to a steward for help and they sent me to a doctor under the stadium.
“I had cardiac arrest twice in the ambulance. My heart stopped twice – but they brought me back to life and got me to the Royal Free Hospital where I had a stent put in because of a blocked artery.”
Bruce, of Greenwich, has since recovered and was reunited with his saviours when Arsenal beat Rennes in a Europa League clash at the Emirates on March 14.
“It was really overwhelming [meeting them],” he said. “They’re not normal people by any stretch of the imagination – they’re absolutely amazing. They reacted so quickly.”
Bruce was at the derby with his friend Hazel Davison, who attests she’ll never watch Arsenal play Spurs with him again.
He joked that referee Mike Dean may have had a hand in his sudden attack.
“When he gave them a penalty it was a bit of a shock,” said Bruce. “I’m normally a calm person but it just came on at half-time.”
Rachel Oakley. a St John Ambulance volunteer, said: “Bruce told us he’d been having chest pains for around half an hour and didn’t feel very well, but he thought it was just indigestion. We ran all the observational tests on him – all were completely normal.
“He insisted the pain wasn’t bad, but a man of a certain age presenting with chest pains meant alarm bells were ringing and we knew he needed to see a doctor.”
John Harrison was the first London Ambulance Service medic to help assess Bruce’s condition.
John said: “Bruce’s ECG showed that he was having a heart attack, so we wanted to get him to a heart attack centre as quickly as possible. But he went into cardiac arrest as we were getting him into the ambulance.”
London Ambulance Service crew Jack Pooley and Adam Dixon, supported by Terry Oldrey and Julie Taylor, started CPR and used a defibrillator to shock Bruce’s heart.
John added: “They managed to get Bruce back. There’s no doubt that the speed of the response to get lifesaving treatment to Bruce, as well as excellent team work, helped to save his life. We are all immensely proud of what we achieved that day.”
Bruce, who has no medical history of heart problems, had a blockage in his left anterior descending artery (LAD), which is also known as the “widow maker”.
A blockage in this artery is “invariably fatal” without speedy and expert medical attention.
Arsenal beat Tottenham 4-2 on December 2.