‘Unbelievable’: Hornsey Rise dad suffered double cardiac arrest as he picked up newborn son from Whittington - but lived to tell the tale

Colette, Barney and Jim, who says he owes the Whittington staff his life.

Colette, Barney and Jim, who says he owes the Whittington staff his life. - Credit: Archant

A first time father has described the “unbelievable” set of circumstances – so far-fetched they could be a EastEnders storyline – which mean he is able to watch his baby son grow up.

Jim Morris, of Hazellville Road, Hornsey Rise was tired but delighted when he bounded up the stairs to the Whittington Hospital’s maternity unit, where his partner Colette Callus was waiting with newborn Barney to be picked up in September last year.

He had no idea he was about to become the third member of his new family unit to be treated by staff at the Magadala Avenue hospital in Archway: Colette had had an emergency caesarean and Barney had to be treated for the first 20 minutes of his life for breathing problems.

Vision engineer Mr Morris was only a few steps away from the entrance when he collapsed, leaving medics frantically trying to save his life as he suffered a double cardiac arrest.

The 33-year-old said: “When I came round, I felt fine – I was very emotional. At that point, all I had was an over-riding feeling I had let Colette down because I was not able to get her home.”

Neither he – nor his partner of 12 years, who had rushed out from the ward cradling Barney to be by Jim’s side, realised how close they had come to losing him.

When they did, it would be the twists of fate which would remain with them – and for those, they thank the care given by the Whittington’s staff.

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The reason Mr Morris was in the hospital that day in particular was because of a consultant’s decision months earlier, at the 20-week scan, to book Ms Callus in for a scan at 36 weeks because Barney was going to be a big baby.

At 36 weeks, it was decided to induce her early.

“Had we not had that consultant – had it not been for that extra care – he may never have seen our baby,” said Ms Callus, a television producer.

“There’s so many points – fate played a huge part, but that consultant did too.”

Doctors would later discover that Mr Morris had an extremely rare condition called Lymphocytic Myocarditis, which meant his own immune system attacked his heart. It is often fatal – and the couple are aware of how lucky they were that he collapsed in hospital.

Unbelievable skill

Mr Morris said: “Less than half an hour before I had been asleep in bed. If it had happened there, it’s not worth dwelling on.

“I owe my life to the staff at the Whittington Hospital. Their unbelievable response time and skill not only saved my life, but also meant that I have not lost my memories of the time leading up to my cardiac arrests. Barney’s birth is still a wonderful, clear memory for me.”

The family has since moved to Liverpool, after five years in north London. Mr Morris is now being cared for by cardiac specialists at the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust – all the time aware how much they owe to the Whittington.

“It’s the simple things in life I get to do now with my son because of what everyone did there from day one, from the first 12-week scan,” said Mr Morris. “I still have not quite got my head around it, the way events came together as they did.”