Mark Lang suffered three cardiac arrests and was revived each time by a team at Cork University Hospital.
An English tourist has returned to an Irish hospital to thank the doctor who saved his life during a heart attack.
Father-of-two Mark Lang suffered three cardiac arrests and was revived each time by a team involving a consultant cardiologist at Cork University Hospital (CUH).
Reflecting on the experience, Mr Lang said: “Professor Noel Caplice told me ‘You were knocking at those (heavenly) gates a few times and we weren’t letting you go in’.”
Mr Lang’s wife Julie, 51, believes her husband would not have survived had the holidaying English couple not been staying within minutes of Cork University Hospital.
The couple, from Ormskirk near Liverpool, had been enjoying a night out in Cork city in February when the health emergency began.
Mr Lang, a former amateur rugby league player, said: “I woke up at 3am and thought I had indigestion, I started to be sick and after an hour, I had a shower; I thought that might help me feel a bit better.
“I lay down for about 20 minutes, woke up again and the pain was so intense in my hands and jaw, I told Julie I needed to get to hospital.”
The A&E department at CUH’s Wilton campus was seven minutes’ drive from the Kingsley Hotel, where the Langs were staying.
In the time it took Julie to park their car, Mark was whisked to the hospital’s resuscitation area as an emergency team prepared him for the catherisation lab and stent insertion.
Mrs Lang said: “I was just standing there watching.
“They came from everywhere; doctors, nurses, all the clinicians, anaesthetists, the response was amazing.”
After a separate planned trip to Krakow had been delayed, the couple had decided to go to Cork rather than stay in Ormskirk.
Ms Lang said: “At home, our local hospital is 20 minutes away. If we were here, Mark could have arrested in the car and might not have survived. It obviously wasn’t his time to go.”
Mr Lang, a weighbridge operator, is recovering but living with a heart function rate of 27%.
A three-week stint in CUH’s coronary care unit was followed by the fitting of an ICD (defibrillator) and pacemaker at Spire Hospital in Manchester and further care at Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital.
Last month, the couple returned to Cork to present the hospital’s fundraising arm, CUH Charity, with a donation from players and supporters at Ormskirk Rugby Club, where Mr Lang coached for 15 years and Ms Lang was a club steward.
Mr Lang added: “I only realised when I was talking to Prof Caplice afterwards, how close I was to not being here at all.
“It gives you a true appreciation of what they do.”
Claire Concannon of CUH Charity said the incident highlighted the hospital’s care of patients from further afield than Cork and Munster.