Daughter saves dad’s life with defibrillator

Ronald McCandless has his daughter Heather Seggie to thank for him being alive today. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Ronald McCandless has his daughter Heather Seggie to thank for him being alive today. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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A trained lifesaver has told how she brought her own father back from the dead after he collapsed and stopped breathing.

Heather Seggie, 47, had been commiserating with dad ­Ronald McCandless following a Scotland rugby defeat when his heart stopped in her employer’s car park and he slumped to the ground.

The experienced first aider immediately began performing chest compressions – alongside a mystery good samaritan – before a colleague raced to fetch a heart-start machine.

Mrs Seggie then delivered the vital shock needed to jolt 73-year-old Ronald’s heart back into its natural rhythm.

“I thought he was having an asthma attack but he was making funny breathing noises and then he stopped breathing completely,” she said, “It was the scariest thing I’ve had to do. I just went onto autopilot and everyone said that I looked really calm but my heart was beating like mad and my legs were wobbling beneath me.

“The defibrillator arrived and I put that on to shock him and thankfully it was enough to start him breathing straight away.”

Fortunately, the traumatic ordeal took place just yards from Mrs Seggie’s office in Gorgie Road which housed a life-saving heart-start device.

It comes amid an Evening News campaign – alongside the family of Jamie Skinner – to put defibrillators in every Lothian sports centre.

Jamie, 13, was a talented footballer who died on the pitch last December from an undiagnosed heart condition. His tragic death sparked criticism that employees at the Saughton Sports Complex failed to use a defibrillator kept on site for medical emergencies despite being trained to do so.

Mrs Seggie said she owes her father’s life to the defibrillator.

“He took a big breath and then starting breathing again – although shallowly at first,” she said. Tests confirmed the grandfather-of-two had suffered a heart attack and he spent three weeks in recovery after undergoing a double heart bypass.

Ronald has had three operations to improve blood flow to his heart and has a mini-defibrillator to automatically shock his heart if it stops again.

The pensioner, who is vice-president of Sighthill Bowling Club, discovered his daughter had saved his life while lying in a hospital bed.

“I thought I’d just fallen over and then I found out exactly what had happened,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it, I wouldn’t be here without Heather.”

“If I had collapsed at my house or even during the match, I wouldn’t be here today. I’m convinced of that.”

Heather used one of four defibrillators available at Macfarlan Smith – where she works as a microbiologist – and has now been nominated for a Scottish First Aid Award.

The family are keen to trace the mysterious Scotland fan – thought to be in his mid-30s – who disappeared when ­paramedics pulled in and before Heather could offer her thanks. “The guy never gave his name and just disappeared at the end – I’m so grateful to him,” she said.

The sister of Jamie Skinner, Sonia McCraw, 30, said Heather’s remarkable story illustrated why her family were committed to their campaign.

“Their amazing story is exactly why we are trying to put these in place everywhere so if anything does happen like this, the equipment is there and people are trained to use it.

In memory of Jamie

The Evening News has joined the family of Jamie Skinner in launching the Shockingly Easy campaign. We hope to ensure there is a life-saving defibrillator in every Lothian sports centre. Here’s how to help:

• Make a donation or fundraise for a defibrillator Cheques payable to The Jamie Skinner Foundation can be sent to Shockingly Easy, The Edinburgh Evening News, Orchard Brae House, 30 Queensferry Road, EH4 2HS.

• Volunteer to take a defibrillator course at your sports club

• Learn CPR skills

If you can help, e-mail savealife@edinburghnews.com.