A story about Ben from Lewis Allsopp

Published on: Wednesday, 17th August 2022

Erewash Sound Drive Presenter Lewis Allsopp tells the story of his friend Ben...

I want to tell you a story about Ben. Ben was my friend in school, he was in my year. We used to play football together at lunch. As an outsider looking in, he was perfectly fit, perfectly healthy. A normal lad. I hadn’t spoken to him, particularly since leaving school about 5 years ago. Not for any reason, we just went our separate ways. But recently, we’ve gotten back in touch with each other.

Let’s bring things back to now, I was driving home from here, at the radio station a few Mondays ago - the 25th July. I drive past the Ilkeston Town Football Ground on my way back, and there was an air ambulance there, which obviously grabs your attention. 

Little did I know, that it was Ben they were treating. 

I’ve since been in touch with Ben, after finding out what happened, and, with his permission, I want to tell you his story. Now, I must stress that Ben can’t remember much of this – but he’s pretty secure on the story now after speaking to the people who were around at the time. 

He’s 20, and plays in the 6-a-side Monday night league at the New Manor Ground. He’d just finished a match with his team, and they were shaking hands with the opposition. He was walking over to his girlfriend and getting ready to go home. As he did, he dropped to his knees. He started to show as if he was having a seizure. 

Luckily – and there are a few good luck moments in this story – someone at the ground was an on-call firefighter. They noticed the signs that Ben was going into cardiac arrest. The New Manor Ground is equipped with three defibrillators, one of which was fetched and used instantly, while another person performed CPR. 

As paramedics arrived, they covered him up, and continued chest compressions. They reckon Ben went for 30 minutes without any oxygen or blood flow. The paramedics gave him a 12% chance of survival. 

This previously fit, healthy young man was rushed into the Queens Medical Centre, and put into an induced coma, so that the doctors could begin to return his body to a normal rhythm that night. He was also moved to Nottingham City hospital.

The next morning, he began breathing for himself. He was fed through a tube in his neck. And, because he was still being pumped with medication – he can’t remember anything. 

For the first few days, he says he wasn’t really ‘in the room’. People were trying to explain what had happened, but it wasn’t going in. He says he felt fine in his body, so couldn’t understand why he was in hospital.

Ben spent a total of 16 days in the hospital, firstly recovering, and then undergoing CT scans, MRIs, and what felt like hundreds of ECGs, as doctors tried to understand what had happened, and what next steps to take. 

He says he never felt overly anxious – he says he knew that they were the best people for the job, so he let them get on with what they had to do. He had either his mum, dad or girlfriend there with him all of the time, for which he says he can’t thank them enough. 

Ben recently had a mini defibrillator fitted to his body. It’s there for if anything like this ever happens again. He came home a week ago today, and, when I spoke to him yesterday, says he feels good, if a little fatigued, battered and bruised.

The doctors are still doing tests with Ben to see exactly why it happened. It might be genetic. They’re also testing whether it was because of his body’s reaction to playing sport. 

Why am I telling you this? I know you don’t know Ben, and I’d be lying if I said I knew him particularly well nowadays. But, in his own words, something like this ‘isn’t something that happens to normal people like us’. You see it on the telly, read it in the paper and think it won’t happen to you. Ben’s a fit lad, he’s never smoked, taken drugs, or particularly drunk. 

He says he couldn’t be more thankful to everyone at the New Manor Ground, the paramedics, QMC, the ward at Nottingham City, his family. He says he really would not be here without them. 

He has set up a Just Giving page, to raise money for the people who helped to save his life.

Thanks for sharing your story with me Ben.

Lewis

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