When doctor Becky Robson trained in resuscitation as part of her medical studies she never dreamt she would use it to save her sister.
Younger sister Michelle Mcleod collapsed from a cardiac arrest after completing the final leg of a family relay in the Isle of Harris marathon.
Becky, 39, a GP, was also taking part in the race and, when she reached the finish line minutes after her sibling, was confronted with an unfolding emergency.
“My husband Murdanie came running towards me and I thought he was going to tick me off for being late but he told me Michelle had collapsed,” said Becky.
“I rushed toward her to see others gathered around, trying to revive her. Immediately I joined in, and started CPR.
“When I trained in CPR as a medical student I never thought I would use it to resuscitate my sister.”
Becky went straight into “doctor mode”, while her sister-in-law, an intensive care unit nurse, was also on the scene.
“We managed to get her back in 10 to 15 minutes,” said Becky. “Had she had the cardiac arrest further down the road out of sight she may not have survived.”
Mum-of-two Michelle, 37, a political researcher, said she remembered nothing of the day.
“I was part of the family relay in the marathon, running the last nine miles,” she said.
“But I can’t recall anything of the day and any memories of collapsing or being resuscitated have been wiped.
“I was told that I finished and fell to the ground just moments after passing the finish. Luckily, I was near others and a defibrillator was handy.”
After being brought back to life, Michelle was transferred to Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway.
She was stabilised before being transferred to the intensive care unit of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.
Back at the family home on the Isle of Lewis, her daughters, Lara, five, and Bethany, two, were being cared for by family members.
Relatives were desperately worried, but were careful not to let their feelings show to the little ones.
Neighbours rallied round with gifts of hot meals and good wishes. “It’s the joy of
living in a caring island community,” said Becky.
Husband Shonny had travelled to the Glasgow hospital in the emergency air ambulance with Michelle. Over the next 12 weeks she recovered well enough to send video messages to the rest of the family.
“After a few weeks they were able to visit me and we explained that mum was in hospital getting better,” said Michelle.
“I owe my life to my sister and everyone who saved me. I’m lucky to be alive to bring up two lovely wee girls.”
Professor Steve Leslie, a Highland-based cardiologist, said Michelle was extremely lucky to survive.
“She made it because there were trained people around her when she suffered her cardiac arrest,” he said.
“Having a sister who is a GP certainly made a difference.
“But anyone can learn CPR and without it there is little chance of survival.
“Everyone should learn to use a defibrillator and administer CPR.You never know when you will be called upon to save a life.”
Doctors were unable to discover the cause of Michelle’s cardiac arrest. She has had a tiny implanted defibrillator fitted to her heart to restart it should she ever suffer another attack.
Only 8% of Scots ever recover from cardiac arrests outwith hospitals. Michelle’s family now support Lucky2BHere, a charity founded by Skye-based cardiac arrest survivor
Ross Cowie which runs CPR training courses and supplies defibrillators to groups around the country.
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