Doctor Harry Chan knows better than most how lucky he is to be alive.
The intensive care registrar was brought back from the dead by staff at a fitness centre after he suffered a cardiac arrest playing squash.
And today the 38-year-old said a heartfelt “thank you” to the quick-thinking trio who shocked him back to life with a defibrillator.
“I’ve been very, very fortunate,” said Dr Chan, who is now recovering back home in Ulnes Walton, near Leyland.
“It’s a miracle really. The last thing you expect is to die on the squash court and then get revived again.
“I am very grateful to the wonderful people who did what they did. I’m lucky to still be here.”
Dr Chan was playing in a squash tournament at the David Lloyd Gym at Whittle-le-Woods, Chorley when he collapsed.
Staff members Chris Swain, Helen Towriss and Lauren Coughlan dashed onto the court and used the centre’s defib machine to restart his heart.
An off-duty paramedic, who just happened to be on the next squash court, also jumped in to help. By the time Dr Chan was taken off to the A&E department at Chorley Hospital he was conscious and breathing normally.
“I can remember bits and pieces of it,” he said. “I can remember the guy I was playing, although I can’t recall the score.
“I’m told I was winning, which makes a change for me.”
He added: “In my job I have seen a lot of patients who have come out of these sort of episodes and invariably they have suffered quite a lot of damage. Fortunately for me, help was on hand straight away - it’s a case of the earlier the shock the better the outcome.
“A whole lot of things went in my favour that night. I was lucky there was a defibrillator there at the gym. And there were a number of people there who were trained how to use it.
“Everything that needs to be done was done in the right way and I’m incredibly grateful to the David Lloyd staff and everyone else for all they did. If this had to happen then I was in the perfect place for it to happen.
“I’m not out of the woods just yet. It will be six weeks before I can start rehab with some light exercise. At that point we will reassess it. But right now I’m just so grateful to still be around.”
Harry spent several days in the cardiac unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and it was there he got a visit from the three fitness centre staff who helped save his life.
“It was a pretty emotional moment that,” he said. “I’m very grateful to them all for their actions. I can never thank them enough.”
Rob Hawksworth, operations manager at the fitness centre in Moss Lane, said: “We’re all extremely proud of our staff.
“We have had our defib machine for five or six years and this is the first time we have ever had to use it. Our staff are trained in the use of it and they get regular refreshers.
“This incident just goes to show how worthwhile all that training is. Without a defib on site Harry might not have made it.
“The three who acted quickly to treat Harry did a great job. It was a team effort in difficult circumstances.”
Lead coach Chris was first on court with the centre’s defib machine and, helped by head receptionist Lauren and food and bar supervisor Helen, he managed to deliver the shock which restored his heart rhythm.
Paramedics were on the scene almost immediately and took over. By the time they got him to the A&E department at Chorley he was conscious and breathing normally.
Harry is a specialist registrar in anaesthesia and intensive care medicine at the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary at Wigan.