Oban charity donation is a life-saver

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An Oban grandfather-of-five who ‘dropped dead’ at work has welcomed the arrival of the town’s latest life-saving kit.

Donnie MacPhee ‘died’ for seven minutes on a job for MacQueen Bros  Removals & Storage while helping carry a couch upstairs at a customer’s house in London – but the 64-year-old’s life was saved by CPR and the quick arrival of a defibrillator which was located just two streets away when it happened.

At the same time as Mr MacPhee cheated death, his boss Graham MacQueen, who runs a charitable trust, got a letter from Glencruitten Golf Club member Helen Pearson asking for funding for a defibrillator. He agreed and the new defibrillator, which cost £1,856.80, is now in place on a wall outside the clubhouse.

Club member Mrs Pearson, who appealed for help after witnessing two people collapsing at course, had written to a number of local charities but MacQueen Charitable Trust was the first to say yes.

Mr MacQueen said: ‘Donnie’s experience brought the need for another defibrillator in the town into sharp focus. If it hadn’t been for a defibrillator Donnie would not be back with us.’

When Mr MacPhee woke in hospital he was told he had suffered a cardiac arrest, not a heart attack, and that only three per cent of people whose hearts stop ever make it back.

Mr MacPhee, who was back at work just six weeks after it happened three years ago and has not had a day off sick since, said: ‘I was fine before the job but almost at the top of the stairs carrying a couch I felt dizzy then blacked out. The rest is what people told me when I woke up. Doctors kept me in a coma for three days but I saw bright lights. I was dead for seven minutes they told me. If it hadn’t been for the customer doing CPR and a first responder just being two streets way with a defibrillator I would not be here today. It fired me up. I was a dead man but I’m a lucky man. I saw the bright lights but I came back.’

He added: ‘I’m living proof defibrillators save lives. You can’t put a price on that. Another defibrillator in Oban means more people will get the second-chance I got if the worse happens to them. Life would have gone on the same without me being here. People would go about their business, going to work, walking the dog as usual but for me every new day is a bonus. Seeing God’s creations is a blessing.’

In 2010 MacQueen Bros Charitable Trust, supporting local causes for more than 20 years, paid for back-up batteries for Avich and Kilchrenan Community Council’s defibrillator and now the trust is planning to buy a special heated-box so Oban Lorne Rugby Club can move its life-saving machine from inside the club to outdoors for easier public access.