Hibs fan backs campaign after ‘dying and being brought back to life’

Paul Barnes had a heart attack while watching Hibs training.  Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Paul Barnes had a heart attack while watching Hibs training. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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Football fans devote their lives in the pursuit of supporting their team but few can say they owe their life to their club.

On the pitches of the Hibs training ground in East Lothian 55-year-old Paul Burns, from Clermiston, fell to the ground and “died” before coming back to life after suffering a massive heart attack.

A wayward shot during a kickabout with fellow fans hit Paul and he was knocked to the ground unable to get up.

The next thing he remembers is waking up in an ambulance after suffering a cardiac arrest.

Hibs physiotherapist, Kitty McKinnon, rushed to his side to administer CPR, which failed to work, before grabbing the nearby defibrillator and shocking Paul, bringing him back to life.

“It was only when I went back to the ground a few weeks later that I realised how many people assisted in saving my life that day and I am eternally grateful to each and every one of them,” Paul said. “Thank goodness Kitty and the defibrillator machine were at hand, otherwise I would most certainly have died. My life was saved by the use of a defibrillator.”

And to show his gratitude and the importance of access to defibrillators Paul is now 
asking for the public’s help to buy more of the lifesaving devices.

He said: “That’s why I am setting myself a target of raising £5,000 to provide funds for three defibrillators along with the necessary training required to administer them.”

And as the defibrillator champion for St John Scotland, who donate public access defibrillators (PADs) to locations across Scotland, his fundraising campaign launched on April 3, a year from his heart attack, has nearly reached the £5,000 target.

“I feel very humbled by everyone’s support. The one thing I really want to emphasis is this isn’t a story about Hibs.

“There’s no discrimination when it comes to heart disease – young, old, black, white, 
religious or atheist, Hibs fan or Hearts fan – it’s just a great piece of equipment and the bottom line is it saved my life and it could save someone else’s.”

But Paul’s story was moments away from having a very different outcome.

Just hours before his heart stopped beating Paul had been finishing some paperwork at home.

He told his wife Elaine that if he didn’t manage to complete his tasks by 8.20am he would go for a run in the Pentlands instead of playing football.

Thankfully, at 8.20am on the dot, Paul closed his laptop and made his way to Ormiston. Paul said: “It was fate – if I had gone for a run in the hills I would have been nowhere near a defibrillator and I would have died.”

A Hibs spokesman said: “We are delighted to support what Paul is doing and would urge people to back what is a very good cause.

“The club is delighted he is very much alive and well, thanks to the superb team 
effort of several of our staff, 
led by two of our physiotherapists, on that day. The application of the defibrillator undoubtedly saved Paul’s life – and having more of these machines in public places will undoubtedly help save others in future.”

To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/PaulBurnsDefibs