The partner of a man who went into cardiac arrest when she was five months pregnant says she is “so thankful” London’s Air Ambulance was able to save him.

On June 9, 2020, Leon and his partner Sarah had just finished their dinner and were relaxing on the sofa – a normal Monday night in their Wembley flat.

Five months pregnant with their first child at the time, Sarah will never forget that evening.

She said: “It was 7.34pm and we were watching Normal People on BBC.

“Leon was a little tired because he’d done a big cycle ride the day before – about 80 miles – but he often did that with his friends, nothing was out of the ordinary.”

While relaxing watching telly, Leon’s leg started hurting, which Sarah at first thought was cramp from his cycling.  

But when she looked over, she saw that “he was in a lot more trouble” – Leon had gone into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing.

For four minutes Sarah performed CPR – following instructions given to her over the phone - until London Ambulance Service paramedics arrived.

Although they were eventually able to restart Leon’s heart by shocking him, his breathing was not effective, and his oxygenation levels were very low.

The paramedics requested the dispatch of the London Air Ambulance’s advanced trauma team.

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After assessing Leon, the team placed him in an induced coma to take over his breathing and optimise his oxygenation.

“I remember watching and standing over them as they worked on Leon,” said Sarah. “I had to try and remain calm, they were looking after Leon, so all I could do was look after the baby. I remember thinking if he was going to die, I wasn’t going to let her die too.”

Leon’s cardiac arrest had been caused by inflammation of his heart due to a virus. He had no pre-existing conditions.

He was taken to his local hospital, Northwick Park, and later transferred to Harefield Hospital, where he stayed for three months - with Sarah unable to visit him during lockdown.

Thankfully, Leon eventually awoke from his coma. Sarah said: “The first thing he said to me when the tracheostomy tube was taken out was ‘I’m going to do everything I can to be there for the birth’ – that was a poignant moment for me.

“He was very taken aback by how much he had missed – for him my stomach had grown from five months pregnant to nearly eight within a few days.

“He felt hugely guilty and believed he had failed me, not being able to be there for me whilst I was pregnant.”

On August 12, 2020, Leon was discharged from hospital and able to finally go home.

Two months later, baby Georgie was born in Exeter with both parents present. “It was a real pinch-me moment,” said Sarah.

And two years on, Leon is back on his bike. To add to the good news, the couple recently announced they are expecting a second baby.

Sarah said: “My children are lucky to have a father. We’re lucky I was there to start CPR and we’re lucky Georgie hadn’t been born and didn’t witness it.

“We are also lucky that the air ambulance team were available to attend to Leon so quickly. I’m so thankful.”