Over two weeks ago on 1 June, my big brother, 39, was handed the toughest fight of his life when he went into cardiac arrest and his heart stopped beating for 22 minutes. During that time, there was no blood being pumped to Garth’s brain, lungs and other vital organs, which meant he had no oxygen, no pulse and essentially died. Twice.
His friends at Mike’s Gym, where he was exercising at the time, found him collapsed and worked tirelessly to resuscitate him and keep him alive until the emergency services arrived to defibrillate him. Garth’s heart began to beat again, but he remained unconscious and was transferred from the ambulance to the intensive care unit where he was on life support.
What has followed since has been the hardest time of Garth’s and all of our lives and there’s still a very long, tough and uncertain time ahead. From the ambulance, he spent five days in an induced coma, where we were all desperately willing him to wake up again. Despite the chances of survival of out of hospital cardiac arrests being as low as 8%, we never gave up on Garth and he never gave up on us; he did beat the odds and woke up six days later - a moment none of us will ever forget.
His heart is now stable and he’s currently spending his days in a cardiology ward. Physically he’s making progress, he can walk, he is eating well (unsurprisingly!) and we are amazed and so proud of him for every day that he continues to fight. The biggest challenge he faces now is recovering from the damage done to his brain.
We don’t know the full extent of the damage yet, but what we do know is that he has no memory or recollection and doesn’t currently recognise any of us. He’s learning everything from scratch and is becoming increasingly agitated and frustrated as he´s slowly trying to make sense of the world. He desperately needs specialist neurological treatment and care outside of the hospital he is currently in.
One thing we’ve learnt over the past two weeks is that a lot of reliance is on the family for providing care here in Spain and so far, we’ve had to provide round the clock supervision. It seems there is little to no public neurological health support in place and with neither Garth nor Sorrel able to work, they will have no income to support them, making this time even more difficult.
We are unsure how long his recovery will take – it could take months or years. But these first stages with a brain injury are crucial in the recovery stages, so it’s important we get the right specialist treatment immediately, which may include transferring him to a neurology unit. He’s already been showing his incredible spirit and strength beating the odds so far, so let’s make sure he has the best chance possible to win this fight and bring back the Garth we all know and love – a loving father to three gorgeous girls, Lily, Ash and Elle, partner, son, brother and friend to many.
Even though these have been the darkest days, the love has shone through, united all our family and friends and we are massively appreciative for all the support. I’ve watched in admiration as my brother’s girlfriend, Sorrel, has shown nothing but courage and determination throughout, supporting Garth on his road to recovery. I can’t fully put into words how much it means to me and how grateful I am to see the love that Sorrel has for my brother and that he has her by his side. I am determined to help them get as much help as they need and ensure Garth gets the best possible rehabilitation and care he deserves.
Please help them by donating anything you can so Sorrel can fully focus on being there for Garth. All the money raised will go towards medical bills, travel costs and whatever is needed in order for them to survive financially whilst Garth is hopefully making a full recovery.
My mum said as a child I used to follow my brother around like a shadow and always looked up to him. I’ve seriously never been prouder of him right now for this fight he is putting up and I only hope I can do him proud one day if he reads this. Please together help us bring our Garth back. #comeonGarth
- Paul Riley
- Paul Robinson
- Johanna Altun
- Harriette Luscombe
- Richard Stott
Organizer and beneficiary
Manchester, North West England, United Kingdom