Heartfelt reunion for CPR cardiac duo who saved runner’s life

Laura Conway, Sam Cullen and John Rowlands
Laura Conway, Sam Cullen and John Rowlands

Two senior cardiac physiologists from Peterborough City and Papworth Hospitals have been reunited with a runner whose life they saved when they all took part in the Peterborough parkrun at Ferry Meadows on Saturday.

In November last year, Eye Community Running colleagues Laura Conway, a senior cardiac physiologist at Peterborough City Hospital, and Sam Cullen, a cardiac physiologist at Papworth Hospital, were taking part in the St Neots half marathon when they stopped to help a runner who had collapsed at the side of the road.

Laura said: “Because of our training we realised immediately that he’d stopped breathing. We began CPR straight away, taking it in turns to perform chest compressions until he started breathing again.”

The runner, John Rowlands from Harpenden in Hertfordshire, was taken by ambulance to Bedford Hospital where it was discovered that he had been living with an undiagnosed asymptomatic congenital heart defect.

John said: “I can’t believe how lucky I was to have had two heart specialists running in the same event when I collapsed. Thanks to Laura and Sam’s fast action and CPR skills it was confirmed by Papworth Hospital that no damage had been caused to my heart while I was unconscious.”

John’s recovery is remarkable, so much so, he is back competing with his running club the Harpenden Arrows. He said: “My GP and cardiologists say my fitness and strong heart before the event are the major contributors to me surviving the incident and my fast recovery. I’m now running five miles or so three times a week and have taken part in more than 50 parkruns.”

Almost six months to the day since John collapsed, the trio ran together in the Peterborough parkrun which took place at Ferry Meadows on Saturday, April 16, and which was also Laura’s 28th birthday.

After the run Laura said: “This was the first time I had spoken to John since resuscitating him at the side of the road in St Neots. It was amazing to see how well he has recovered and to be able to run together. What a wonderful way to celebrate my birthday!

“What happened to John could happen to anyone, but there isn’t always going to be two cardiac specialists on hand to deliver CPR. That is why it is so important for everyone to learn how to do it.”

John added: “I’ve organised a CPR training event for the run leaders at my club. Everyone realises what a life saver it is.”