Date published: 5 June 2024


A Leicestershire dad who suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in front of his football team has been reunited with the team of people who worked together to save his life.

Sanjay Shah from Hamilton in Leicestershire was just 52 when he stopped breathing and became unconscious while playing football at New Parks Leisure Centre on 4 August 2023.

Sanjay, who is an active gym goer had no prior symptoms ahead of his cardiac arrest and was following his normal Friday routine of work and playing football before the weekend.

However, not long after kick off, Sanjay realised something wasn’t right as he felt a sharp stabbing pain in his chest and realised his vision was blurry. He then collapsed and next thing he knew, it was Saturday.

Within seconds of Sanjay collapsing, Silpesh Mistry, a physiotherapist, jumped into action and ran to Sanjay’s aid.

He called 999 and Emergency Medical Advisor, Michelle Bower answered, talking Silpesh through Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) instructions over the phone, giving Sanjay the best chance of survival.

Silpesh said: “The session on the Friday started like any other. As a group of mates, we play regularly together, and everyone was in good spirits with it being the weekend.

“I was running on the other side of the pitch when my teammate started shouting at me, pointing to Sanjay who was in the mouth of the goal. At first, I thought he was joking but soon realised this was not the case and sprinted over to him.

“Realising what was wrong, I knew I had to do something and luckily being a physio, I had training in CPR so knew to act immediately.”

Silpesh began CPR on Sanjay while Paramedic Caitlin Sparling and Technician Niall Jerrison were rapidly making their way to the scene.

Caitlin and Niall arrived on scene just four minutes after the 999 call to take over from Silpesh, followed by Paramedics Matthew Thorne, Madeleine Tenkate, Ruby Beresford, Chelsey Evans and the Helimed 54 crew of Tom Eckersley and Keith Rutherford, who were able to achieve a return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) and rush Sanjay off to Glenfield General Hospital.

Sadly, doctors weren’t hopeful with Sanjay’s condition, where he was given a one to two percent chance of survival, however Sanjay beat the odds, waking up on Saturday morning confused as to what had happened.

Sanjay said: “Much of what I remember has been pieced together by the stories I have been told by everyone who witnessed what happened that day. For me, that was kick off and then waking up in a room at hospital thinking someone was playing a trick on me.

“At first I thought I had created it all in my imagination and had to wonder why I was covered in tubes in a place I wasn’t familiar with.”

Sanjay remained in hospital for just over two weeks, where under the care of specialists, he was fitted with a stent inside the artery which became blocked, causing the cardiac arrest.

Following his time in hospital, Sanjay finally made his way home to be reunited with friends and family, coming to terms with what happened.

“Overall, 35 amazing people helped me to get back home following my cardiac arrest and I couldn’t be more grateful for how brilliant they all were.

“From Silpesh, to Niall and Caitlin and all the way through to the staff in ICU and the cardiac ward at Glenfield, I cannot thank them enough for giving me a second chance at life. CPR saved me.

Less than a year on, Sanjay is doing well and has returned to his active and busy lifestyle which he recognises is due to the effective CPR performed by Silpesh and the efforts of the EMAS crew on the day.

He said:

“Although I do not remember much from that day, I suffered no brain or heart damage and attend regular appointments to ensure nothing is wrong. I have made a number of changes in my lifestyle and I am back at the gym and running my business again.

“I know I am very lucky, however, some people are not as lucky as me and that is why I would encourage everyone to take up the opportunity to learn CPR. We need to catch up to other countries in the world and ensure more people survive out of hospital cardiac arrests.”

Since his cardiac arrest, Sanjay has organised two community CPR training events with the help of Harnek Kandola, Assistant Manager at New Parks Leisure Centre, where members of the public had the opportunity to learn this life saving skill.

Caitlin Sparling, Paramedic at East Midlands Ambulance Service said:

"It is really lovely to be here. Sanjay is one of the first patients I have been able to resuscitate and then go on to have a conversation with. It is nice to see the difference from him in August to now and that we have made a difference to somebody."

Would you know how to save someone's life if they suffered a cardiac arrest? Visit the Community Trainer section of our website to find out how you can book a free one hour training session with our Community Trainers who volunteer across the East Midlands teaching the life-saving skill of CPR and the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).