A BRAVE teenager who survived a near fatal cardiac arrest is drumming up support for life-saving defibrillator equipment.
Alice Brierley’s family was told to expect the worst when she collapsed in a maths lesson at Little Lever High School when she was just 15. But thanks to the quick-thinking actions of English teacher Jeanette Robinson, other staff and paramedics, Alice has made a full recovery.
Alice, of Little Lever, who is now 19, is encouraging others to get behind her fundraising drive to support the Bolton ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) Support Group. Alice said: “I now realise how lucky I was. I never appreciated it before. After it happened I felt like I was never happy with anything. I was angry at myself for not being grateful. I had the cardiac arrest on September 20, 2010, just before my 16th birthday on September 26. What happened didn’t really hit me until two months later when I was wondering ‘why me?’ I was struggling sleeping and felt like I was tired constantly and I couldn’t concentrate. It was just horrible. But I have finally come to terms with it, especially after it happened to Fabrice Muamba.
Alice only had about three weeks off school before returning to complete her GCSEs. But in November she suffered a further shock while sitting a GCSE maths examination — but her ICD, which was implanted after her initial cardiac arrest, prevented her from becoming ill. Debra French, Alice’s mother, a merchandiser for UK Greetings, said: “When it first happened, the school called me and said Alice had had a panic attack and had gone to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. I didn’t realise how serious it was at all until they got me in a room and told me she had had a cardiac arrest. She came around after about 10 days. She was quite aggressive at first and was saying she wanted a wash and a shower. Her 16th birthday in hospital was just amazing, but after she came out of hospital we went through hell for a year.” Miss French said her daughter surviving a cardiac arrest was a “miracle”. She added: “I met Jeanette Robinson, Alice’s teacher, and I am so grateful to the teachers for what they did.”
Alice is raising awareness of CPR and defibrillators by raffling a Uniting for Fabrice T-shirt, which was signed by Bolton Wanderers players and given to her as a gift. She hopes it can help raise money for the Bolton ICD Support Group’s work to buy defibrillators. Tracey Wilkinson, fundraising manager for the group, said: “Fourteen young people a week die of cardiac arrests. Schools need to get on board with it and get defibrillators. Just look at Alice? I can give hundreds of examples why schools should have defibrillators.”
Alice, who has recently completed a hair and make-up course at Bolton College, has not yet been able to learn to drive because of her health and has had to reduce the amount of exercise she does. She used to play for the school netball team and Darcy Lever Rounders Team.
Alice will need her ICD replaced and has hospital appointments every four to six months. She will also be on beta-blockers, to control heart rhythm, for the rest of her life.
The raffle for the signed T-shirt will be drawn on March 17, to tie in with the second anniversary of Muamba’s cardiac arrest on the pitch at White Hart Lane during the Whites’ clash against Spurs.
The raffle tickets cost £2 and can be bought from Mrs Wilkinson by calling 07858 539393 or via the Paypal account — defibs4bolton@ hotmail.co.uk.