Eastbourne man who performed CPR on two strangers takes on London Marathon for British Heart Foundation

Paul Nelson is running the London Marathon for the British Heart Foundation
Paul Nelson is running the London Marathon for the British Heart Foundation

A man who performed CPR on two strangers within six months has been inspired to run the London Marathon.

Paul Nelson is raising money for the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) lifesaving research by taking part in the challenge on April 22.

Paul works at Welbeing in Eastbourne

Paul works at Welbeing in Eastbourne

The 54-year-old has taken on the iconic race after he administered CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) to two strangers within months of each other.

While driving home from an early-morning gym class last April, Paul noticed a man lying on his drive way. The man’s heart wasn’t beating and Paul started giving CPR while his wife Dorte knocked on the door of the house and shouted for help.

The man’s wife and son answered the door to see their loved one on the brink of life and death.

A business development manager at Welbeing, Paul said, “It was a cold morning when I found David lying on his driveway, so between taking turns giving chest compressions, all my wife and I could do was to try and comfort and support the family as they faced this nightmare.

“It felt as though we were giving CPR for an eternity, but it was only minutes before the first ambulance arrived.”

Unfortunately, Paul’s efforts weren’t enough and a few days later, he was told that David Shrimpton, aged 62, hadn’t survived.

Six months later, while on holiday in Croatia, Paul noticed an elderly man floating face up in the sea.

He hoisted him out of the water and started CPR. As they were on a small island, it took an hour before help arrived and after 10 minutes of administering CPR, there was nothing more Paul could do.

He later discovered that the man’s name was Pierre and he was in his 80s.

Paul said, “When you’re faced with the ultimate medical emergency, you go into autopilot. I was in quite deep water when I got to Pierre and it was difficult to get him out of the water due to the tide.

“As soon as the adrenaline began to wear off after administering CPR, I became conscious of pain in my right foot.

“I looked down to see that I had stepped on sea urchins and my foot was full of black spines, which presented an entirely different set of challenges for a few weeks.”

There are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK each year and the overall survival rate is fewer than one in 10.

Paul said, “I vividly remember walking through a shopping centre in Watford as a child with my late dad when we saw a man having a cardiac arrest.

“No one around seemed to know how to help and I remember feeling helpless. So when I was asked if I wanted to be trained in CPR, while coaching at my son’s local rugby club, I immediately said yes.

“But I never thought in a million years I would actually have to use CPR.

“The friends and family of David and Pierre were very grateful for the attempts we made to try to save them, yet I couldn’t help but think that I should have done more.

“I realise I shouldn’t think that way, but both of those events will remain with me for the rest of my life and to a certain extent I carry a sense of guilt at being unable to help them further.

“I didn’t talk in too much detail about what happened for a while but I have now realised how much of an emotional impact it has had on my life.

“I’m taking on the London Marathon so as many people as possible will learn how to administer CPR and also to help fund more heart research, which will keep families together.

“I tried my best to save David and Pierre and I’m now trying to help others to take action in the ultimate medical emergency.”

Around 400 runners will unite in the fight against heart disease by running the Virgin Money London Marathon and will help the BHF raise close to a million pounds towards pioneering heart research.

Karen McDonnell, Events Manager at the BHF, said, “We are thrilled that Paul has chosen to take on this legendary challenge for the BHF and will be supporting him every step of the way.”

To sponsor Paul, click here.