BHF Heart Hero Award for Stortford karate instructor whose cardiac arrest was captured on camera
As a karate black belt, Mark Kingsland was fighting fit – but his clubmates had to battle to save his life when he suffered a cardiac arrest.
The 57-year-old was sparring when he collapsed. A video camera captured the agonising seconds as he lay prone on the dojo floor before Stephen Hare – a fellow instructor, or sensei, at Bishop's Stortford Kyokushin Karate – realised he was desperately ill.
As the camera continued filming, Stephen put his CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) skills into action while other club members called for an ambulance.
Mark, a father of two, explained: "The cardiac arrest came completely out of the blue.
"One minute I was sparring with my friend, Stephen, and the next my legs buckled from underneath me.
"It feels so surreal to think it even happened. Watching the video back is quite tough – it almost feels like it isn't me."
Nevertheless, Mark shared the shocking footage with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) in a bid to educate others about cardiac arrest and CPR.
He collapsed because his heart suddenly stopped pumping blood around the body. Unless treated immediately, it can lead to death within minutes.
Stephen – also a 3rd dan at the karate club, which meets at the United Reformed Church Hall in Water Lane – began carrying out rescue breaths and chest compressions until paramedics from East of England Ambulance Service arrived and took over. They also used a defibrillator, which delivered a shock to Mark's heart.
He was taken to Lister Hospital in Stevenage, where he had an emergency procedure to insert a stent before being placed in an induced coma.
Despite the trauma, and thanks to the actions of those who went to his aid that day in November 2017, Mark suffered no long-term damage to his brain. He has since been able to make a full recovery and has now returned to teaching karate.
The BHF shared his powerful video across its social media channels on Restart a Heart Day 2019, which received a huge response from the public.
As a result, he scooped an Inspiration award at the BHF's virtual Heart Hero Awards on Tuesday October 20. His award was announced by model Olivia Arben.
Mark said: "I'm honoured and surprised to have won because I class myself as a very lucky survivor rather than a Heart Hero.
"The real heroes in my case were my friends who carried out CPR and the paramedics who turned up so quickly and calmly and brought me back with their skills and the defibrillator.
"I also want to thank the NHS team at Lister Hospital who operated on and looked after me."
TV presenter Vernon Kay hosted the third annual BHF Heart Hero Awards, which this year were transformed into a star-studded virtual event hosted on YouTube.
The night showcased inspiring people who have shown courage, resilience, compassion and bravery in the face of adversity, and included appearances from celebrity guests including Ella Henderson, The Kooks singer Luke Pritchard and actress Gemma Atkinson.
Dr Charmaine Griffiths, BHF chief executive, said: "While this year's Heart Hero Awards were virtual, we enjoyed celebrating the brilliant and inspirational people who have undergone life-altering experiences or have changed the lives of others.
"A huge thank you and congratulations to all of the nominees and winners, judges and presenters, as well as our new celebrity ambassadors for making the Heart Hero Awards the unique and heart-warming event that it is."