To Death and Back – the remarkable story of two mates
Ken is Ken Every, Director and National Secretary of Heart Support-Australia and Heart Health Support Manager of the Albury Wodonga Heart Support Branch. Ken had his heart attack in 1992.
Kenny is Kenny Anderson, Ken’s running mate and fellow heart attack survivor. What makes Kenny’s story of survival remarkable is that he went so far as to join the 20% of heart attack victims who die from their first heart attack – he quite literally dropped dead before being brought back to life!
Now in his mid-50s, Kenny admits his diet was not the best but he was always pretty fit and active through regular runs, bike riding and squash. Kenny’s fatal heart attack struck at a road crossing during an organised mountain bike race in May 2005 at Albury, NSW.
Luckily, local council workers on traffic duty had first-aid training, immediately administered CPR and called an ambulance fitted with a defibrillator. At Albury Hospital, the emergency team paddled Kenny back to life another seven times before encasing him in ice to drop his body temperature and minimise further damage.
Fortunately, the air ambulance was available to get him to Melbourne that night but Kenny’s family members were told that he would be lucky to survive the flight. But Kenny’s luck held and Ken was able to visit him in Melbourne within a week. Kenny did not need surgery and was back in Albury less than a fortnight after his ordeal, where he immediately commenced an extended cardiac rehabilitation, as he needed longer than the standard six weeks.
Riding on luck
Where Kenny really lucked it in was being a mate of Ken’s and, in turn, Ken being Director and National Secretary of the Albury Wodonga Branch of Heart Support-Australia. With peer support from the branch members and an enormous commitment from Ken and Jeff Holloway, Kenny’s ride buddy in the fateful mountain-bike race, they all trained to compete in the 550 Km, nine-day Great Victorian Bike Ride.
Early in 2006, Ken and Kenny did the WA ride from Albany to Perth and then lined up for a multi-day ride in Queensland just before doing the Victorian ride again.
Kenny’s good run of luck ran out when he ended up unemployed after suffering a back injury and, between his crook back and one knee that is past its use-by date, he now can’t ride. He won’t be able to return to work as a mechanic but he volunteers 15 hours per week at a recycling depot that provides products for the needy and he still benefits from the support of the local Heart Support-Australia branch, being a regular participant in their pole-walking group and other social get-togethers.
Kenny’s summation of his unique journey is that he got good value from his local council rates, ambulance service, heath fund subscription, Medicare levy but, most of all, Ken Every and the hardworking Albury Wodonga branch!