The man who has died NINE times: 29-year-old’s condition regularly makes his heart stop – and he once had FOUR cardiac arrests in just three weeks
- Jamie Poole, who lives in London, has had nine cardiac arrests in as many years
- He has a condition which means his heart muscle is thickened and less effective
- He has collapsed in the street, at work, in an airport terminal and on a treadmill
- And his doctors have advised him to avoid exercise, but he loves to travel
A man has revealed how he has died nine times from a condition that regularly makes his heart stop.
Jamie Poole, from Australia’s Sunshine Coast and living in London, has had cardiac arrests – in which his heart suddenly stops beating – regularly since he was 20.
He has been lucky enough to survive his heart-weakening condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, but doctors say his heart may only last another five years.
Mr Poole admits his mother asks him ‘Have you died this week?’ when she phones, and he tries to enjoy life as much as possible despite his dangerous illness.
He calls stairs his ‘mortal enemy’ and has been told by doctors to avoid exercise – but has travelled all over the world and been snowboarding in the Alps.
Jamie Poole, 29, (pictured in hospital after surgery to install a device to automatically reset his heart) was born with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition in which a portion of the heart becomes thickened
Mr Poole was born with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition in which a portion of the heart muscle becomes thickened – it is thought to affect one in 5,000 people.
This makes the organ less able to pump blood properly around the body, causing sometimes fatal complications.
Some patients can live with the condition and not suffer serious effects, but Mr Poole said his is more complicated and potentially deadly.
He suffers from cardiac arrests, in which blood stops coming out of the heart – this is different to a heart attack, which happens when heart’s own blood supply is cut off.
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He now has an electronic device called an ICD inside his body which can restart his heart automatically when it stops.
‘The first time I had a cardiac arrest was when I was 20,’ said Mr Poole, who works as a creative technologist. ‘They took 45 minutes of CPR to get me up.
‘I woke up a week later from a coma and was told everything that happened.
Mr Poole (pictured in the Alps, where he went snowboarding) had his first cardiac arrest when he was 20 but said he is committed to living a full life despite the risk of his heart stopping at any time
‘The second time I was at my cousin’s. I felt dizzy and went into cardiac arrest. I remember waking up thinking “did I really go to my cousins or was it all a dream?”‘
He then enjoyed a two-and-a-half year spell without trouble until suffering another four heart attacks within three weeks of each other after moving to London.
He said: ‘The third time was actually not until two-and-a-half years later, my first in London, while I was walking to work.
‘The fourth time was actually fourth and fifth.
‘I stubbornly went straight back to work after my third cardiac arrest and, exactly one week later, I woke up at the bottom of the stairwell, before going into yet another cardiac arrest.
‘The sixth time I was walking to work again, and once again exactly one week after my fourth and fifth. I probably should have taken a break.’
Mr Poole has now been fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), a device implanted inside the body to help reset the heart during a cardiac arrest
Mr Poole believes he has had every near-death experience possible, from the out-of-body experience to seeing a ‘white light’ and a ‘golden light’.
He called it his ‘eight seconds of dying’, when he knows what’s coming but can’t do anything about it.
JAMIE POOLE’S NINE LIVES
Jamie Poole, 29, who lives in London, has had nine potentially deadly cardiac arrests since he was 20 years old.
These are his memories of all the times he ‘died’:
‘The seventh time [I had a cardiac arrest was] during lunch,’ he said.
‘It started raining so I sort of jogged to the cafe where I got my food from.
‘Once back to the office, I felt myself go into cardiac arrest and woke up to colleagues lowering my head towards the ground.’
He added: ‘The eighth time was at an airport, back in Australia. I was over there to get my visa renewed.
‘It’s actually one of the most embarrassing moments of my life because when the paramedics got there they had to take my shirt off to put in on the ECG leads, and I got shaved in front of 300 people at the terminal which was an interesting experience.
‘And then the ninth time and final time, so far, was luckily at the hospital.
‘Unfortunately they turned off my ICD as they had me on the treadmill to do a transplant assessment.
‘I actually remember seeing the physiologist slam the emergency stop button on the treadmill.
‘He yelled out “I need some help in here” and then I collapsed and passed out at that point. I woke up to the physiologist performing CPR on my chest.’
Mr Poole has now been fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), a device implanted inside the body to help reset the heart during a cardiac arrest.
He said: ‘About a year ago I had a battery replacement. So they bought me in for surgery. I was actually awake the whole time.
‘Laying there on this operating table with my head to the side I could hear the doctor screwing in wrenches and laser cutting things.
‘It sounded like he was working on car more than a body.’
Mr Poole’s cardiologist, Dr Amanda Varnava, has even recommended Jamie stays away from exercise to avoid triggering his heart trouble.
Mr Poole said: ‘It’s weird advice to hear from a doctor that you shouldn’t do exercise. It sort of goes against every sort of rule that you see around in society.’
Mr Poole, who lives in London, had four cardiac arrests in the space of three weeks after he moved to the city from his home country of Australia
Mr Poole (pictured in New York on holiday) has to take it easy when he is commuting to work and has to walk slowly up stairs, which he said are his ‘mortal enemy’
Pictured preparing for a scan, Mr Poole’s ninth and most recent cardiac arrest happened in a hospital while he was on a treadmill being assessed for a heart transplant which may be his only option in future
Mr Poole (pictured at Stonehenge in Wiltshire) said he has had various near-death experiences – from the ‘out of body’ experience to the ‘white light’ and the ‘golden light’
WHAT IS HYPERTROPHIC CARDIOMYOPATHY?
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a condition where the heart muscle becomes thickened.
Around one in 5,000 people have the condition, and it most commonly develops during the teenage years or young adulthood.
However, the symptoms vary depending on the severity.
These include shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations, dizziness and fainting attacks – most commonly during exercise.
It can cause the heart muscle to become stiff, which means your left ventricle doesn’t fill as easily as normal and less blood is then pumped out.
It can also partially obstruct blood flow, which can make small blood clots more likely.
Mr Poole’s heart condition means he has to take everyday precautions, such as ensuring he takes his time during his busy train commute – especially on stairs.
He added: ‘Stairs seem to be my mortal enemy in a way.’
However, each near death experience has been different for the creative technologist.
He said: ‘I’d like to say that I have had every near death experience possible. I have had the ‘out of body’ experience. I have had the ‘white light’, the ‘golden light’ sort of experience.
‘It’s interesting, I don’t believe in the after-life or any of those sort of experiences actually happening. But obviously after experiencing these first hand I can definitely understand why people believe in them.’
Despite Mr Poole’s heart condition, he is determined not to let it affect the way he lives and enjoys his life.
He said: ‘It’s funny every time my mum calls she asks me – have you died this week? I am happy to answer – not this week.
Mr Poole (pictured at the Colosseum in Rome) said when he speaks to his mother on the phone she asks him ‘Have you died this week?’
Mr Poole, pictured in hospital, has been told his heart may only last another five years and he could need a transplant to be able to survive – he called the appointment ‘scary’
‘I think I’m risking a little bit more just for those moments of experience.
‘I think there is some level of risk I like to take to make sure that I am still experiencing an interesting, full life.
‘I went snowboarding down the French Alps and it didn’t even cross my mind that might actually be dangerous for my condition.’
In the future Mr Poole is looking to get a heart transplant, as doctors are unsure how much longer his heart will last.
He said: ‘About three years ago I probably had the scariest doctor appointment I’ve ever had where Dr Varnava told me that my heart probably wouldn’t last another five years.
‘That was one of the most depressing points of my life. So a transplant may be the only option that can help me live a longer life.
‘Who knows, I might have my custom heart built out of stem cells one day. As long as I live that long to see those kind of improvements then I am happy.
‘The advice that I would give to somebody after I’ve had my experiences is definitely just enjoy the little things in life, don’t take them for granted and cherish those moments.
‘I think my other advice would be that memories are more valuable than things. Go and experience the world.’
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