Peter and family

Peter's sudden cardiac arrest story

My odds of survival were just 0.06%

When Peter de mestre had a sudden cardiac arrest, no one expected him to survive. His odds of survival were just 0.06 percent.

But four years on Peter has beaten all the odds but as he admits it’s been a huge struggle, emotionally and physically.

“People say I am lucky, but I didn’t feel lucky for a long time. I was extremely grateful to be alive but also confused and angry. I thought I’d listened to my doctors and done what I was told. I got fit and looked after myself but I now realise, heart disease can be a silent killer.

“Don’t wait to get a heart health check because unfortunately, not everyone gets another chance. I am speaking out now because I want people to know the toll sudden cardiac arrest places not just on the survivors but on their loved ones too,” says Peter from Sydney.

Peter on life support after his sudden cardiac arrest

Peter’s incredible story begins back in 2010 when he had open heart surgery. He made a full recovery and considered himself healthy and fighting fit - until he collapsed out running in 2018.

He was able to call his brother, and mum who rushed to the scene, and triple O – calls which ultimately saved his life.

Fortunately for Peter, an Afghan army veteran happened to be driving past. He saw Peter on the ground and performed CPR for 10 minutes until paramedics arrived with a machine called a Lucas 2.

This machine provides mechanical chest compressions to patients in cardiac arrest and kept Peter alive for a further hour whilst in hospital.

Peter says: “By this point, my family had arrived at the hospital and were told that the outcome was poor at best. The police were also on their way to get my death certificate signed. No one thought I would make it because of the brain damage I had suffered.”

Peter had indeed suffered brain damage which affected his speech and memory.

“At first, I could not speak any longer than around four or five minutes and it left me with a stutter. My memory before the accident was amazing but I struggle now to remember what happened two days ago.

“I am back walking now, but my life revolves around a 1km square now close to home. I can’t drive and can’t work. It’s taken me four years really to get in a position where I feel I can speak about this openly," adds Peter.

Before his sudden cardiac arrest, Peter worked in the finance industry and says he is fortunate that he was in a good position financially.

Peter says: “I don’t know how we would have coped without having insurance in place. A lot of people and families must struggle enormously, and we need to do more to support people who undergo sudden cardiac arrest.

“I also want more support for family members and some understanding of what they also must go through. I didn’t see what happened to me, but my mum saw them perform 11 shocks on me.

“I have undergone a fundamental change. I’m still here, and very happy and grateful for that, but I am different and there is a part of me that got left behind. My personality has changed – I get angry a lot quicker which I know I can’t help, and I have struggled with depression.

“This takes a toll on everyone around me – families are too often the forgotten ones.”

Peter with his family

Peter says he would not be where he is today without the support of his family and all the health professionals. “There are so many people I want to thank, from the paramedics to the speech therapists and all of my doctors. But especially my family who have been invaluable on this journey.”

Peter is also determined to raise awareness of life-saving CPR training saying: “I would not be here today if that passer-by had not stopped to help and perform CPR on me. It kept me alive until the paramedics arrived.

“Nine out of ten people who have a sudden cardiac arrest don’t survive so it’s vitally important we all know this vital skill.”

Acknowledgement of Country

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute - The Home of Heart Research for 30 Years