A park runner who survived a heart-attack three years ago, thanks to quick help from a doctor who happened to be passing, has been feted for the fundraising it inspired.
Frank Tope, of Haycroft Road, Brixton, was lucky that Aileen O’Brien happened to be in attendance that day and she alerted husband Adam Shaw, also a doctor, who helped administer life-saving CPR before paramedics arrived.
That scare, and the aftercare rehabilitation at King’s College Hospital, persuaded Frank to begin raising money for the hospital, and his efforts have been acknowledged with a ‘top fundraiser’ bib for Sunday’s London Landmarks half marathon.
While the chances of having such a heart attack while running are vanishingly small, the chances of surviving it are also very slim, unless you have the sort of good fortune a grateful Frank had on that near-fateful day.
He said: “I survived due to a combination of spectacular luck and the incredible care I received in the Critical Care Unit at King’s College Hospital.”
Frank was placed in the care of King’s Cardiac Health and Rehabilitation service – a team of specialist nurses, physiotherapists, psychologist and exercise specialists.
Understandably, Frank was worried about the prospect of running again, but the hospital team helped to allay his fears.
“I have to thank the rehabilitation service. I always enjoyed their sessions and they really encouraged me to get back into running,” said Frank.
“The first time out running was a bit nerve-wracking, but probably 10 times as frightening for my wife.”
As the ambulance sped away to take Frank to hospital, Aileen had no idea whether Frank would survive – and only found out by chance some time later that her care had saved his life.
She said: “I work clinically as a psychiatrist and haven’t done CPR for years. When the first responder arrived it was amazing to see the defibrillator work, but after that I had no idea if Frank had survived.
“When I got to meet him later it was one of the most rewarding moments of my life. I’ve even bumped into him running in the park.”
Frank has so far raised £8,000 for King’s College, and his fundraising efforts have been every bit as impressive as his physical recovery.
Frank was awarded a special bib (number three) and a spot at the front of the starting line at the London Landmarks half marathon through the City of London and Westminster, to recognise his incredible effort in raising more than £8,000 for the King’s College Hospital charity.
“Over the pandemic, the Kings’ Critical Care Unit has featured regularly in the media and has become a byword for courage and grace under pressure,” he said.
“My family and I owe everyone at King’s so much, taking on this fundraising challenge is the least I can do.”
King’s College Hospital Charity Chief Executive Gail Scott-Spicer said: “Every day, King’s staff work wonders not only to save and enhance lives, but to drive research and innovation that keeps care advancing. We are so grateful to Frank and our team of London Landmarks runners for raising vital funds to take this amazing work further.”
Frank was joined by nine other top fundraisers on the start line, aiming to raise a total of £6.5m for a variety of great causes. He finished in a time of 1hr, 45mins 1sec – in position 1,273 from a field of 17,177 runners.
Pictured top: Frank Tope and Aileen O’Brien