Western Isles survivor raises £1,600 for Stornoway defibrillator

Michelle and her daughters Lara and Bethany show off the new defibrillator.

A Western Isles woman who suffered a cardiac arrest a year ago during a marathon in Harris has raised more than £1,600 to place a defibrillator in her hometown.

On August 10th, 2019, Michelle Macleod was saved by the quick actions of people trained in CPR, including her own sister, and by the presence of a defibrillator placed by the Skye-based charity Lucky2BHere.

Michelle, a mother of two daughters, Bethany (6) and Lara (3), spent three months in the Golden Jubilee National Hospital near Glasgow following her cardiac arrest.

In November 2019, just 11 weeks later Michelle was back on her feet and well enough to raise a glass to Lucky2Bhere at the charity’s 10th-anniversary celebration in Inverness.

This year Michelle decided to embark on a fundraising campaign to place a defibrillator in her hometown of Stornoway by covering a distance of 250 km by walking and running before the one-year anniversary of that day.

Michelle completed her challenge and raised a total of £1,658.

Speaking to the Free Press, she said: “I came up with the fundraising idea for a defibrillator because I wanted to give something back.

“On that day last year, if it hadn’t been for the availability of a defibrillator and having people knowing how to do CPR, the long and short of it is that I wouldn’t be here today.”

Talking a year on from returning home after the attack, Michelle said she was a million times better now but was still getting to grips with some ongoing challenges.

She said: “There are a few ongoing things — hypoxic brain injury caused by the amount of downtime you have with cardia arrest — means that things like reading a book are an ongoing challenge but two weeks ago I read a whole book, seems like a small thing but the sense of achievement was big because I’ve been trying to do it for months.”

As well as lacing up her running shoes to clock up the miles for a new defibrillator, Michelle has also been helping a group of students at the Nicolson Institute as part of the Youth Philanthropy Initiative.

Remarking on the work of the charity she said: “The ongoing work of Lucky2BHere is so valuable and I hope to continue to be involved in their work in the future.”

Lucky2Bhere founder Ross Cowie said: “What we do is try to save people between the event happening and medical team arriving — that’s where you lose most people and that’s what first response is all about.

“It can happen to the youngest person, and it can happen to the fittest person. I think it’s important that people understand that and can react when the event arises.

“I thought in somewhere as remote as south Harris it worked really well — the decision making was first class.

“Michelle’s recovery has been superb, her sister was especially amazing. It’s okay being a doctor but when you are dealing with your sister it’s a whole other ballgame.

“She’s giving something back and raising money for the defibrillator is fantastic – she’s a fantastic person.”

Michelle added: “I really hope that the defibrillator will never have to be used because if it is it means someone is having a cardiac arrest and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

“But I hope that if it does happen to someone else, the defibrillator will be there and could save a life.

Western Isles survivor Michelle Macleod celebrates life-saving charity Lucky2BHere 11 weeks on from a cardiac arrest.