Leeds politician, 51, reveals he is ‘lucky to be alive’ after heart attack while running

Coun Ryk Downes (Lib Dem, Otley and Yeadon) pictured training in 2014. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Coun Ryk Downes (Lib Dem, Otley and Yeadon) pictured training in 2014. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
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A Leeds councillor claims he is “lucky” to be alive after he was revived by bystanders with a community defibrillator after suffering a near fatal heart attack while out running.

Just months after Coun Ryk Downes (Lib Dem, Otley and Yeadon) collapsed near his home in Pool-in-Wharfedale in January, he is set to run in the Leeds Half Marathon with a portable defibrillator strapped to his back on Sunday.

The 51-year-old politician, who is a seasoned ultra distance runner used to running up to 70-miles a day, has spoken for the first time about the heart attack which led to a lifesaving triple heart bypass.

He stopped breathing four times after being revived by passers-by, who used a defibrillator fitted at a local post office and CPR, and he was given just a 10 per cent chance of survival when airlifted to Leeds General Infirmary by the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

“I had done 10.5miles and was 30 seconds from home and I remember running to about four miles from home,” he said. “I don’t remember anything more from Friday lunchtime to the Sunday nighttime when I woke up in intensive care.

“If it had happened 30 seconds later I would have been through my front door and my wife would have come back at night to find me. I feel incredibly lucky.”

The father of three, who has been a councillor for 12 years, later found out that his heart attack was caused by a hereditary heart condition that he was unaware of. It caused a blood vessel into his heart to close up over time.

He continued: “I was so lucky it happened when it did and there were people on hand prepared to do what they did, otherwise I wouldn’t be here – it’s as simple as that.”

Having been given a clean bill of health by doctors, Coun Downes has returned to work and has been doing regular walks and jogs with his wife.

He will be raising funds for the Community Public Access Defibrillator campaign that saved him during this weekend’s run.

Coun Downes added: “It saved my life, without it I wouldn’t be here, so it’s time to try to give something back.”

To donate visit crowdfunding.justgiving.com/ryk-downes.