A rider is calling for more widespread availability of defibrillators after she went into cardiac arrest while on a quiet hack.
Luka Sibley-Corey, 28, who is a mother to a six-month-old baby, was riding her new pony for the first time when she experienced a series of seizures and her heart stopped beating.
It was only the availability of a defibrillator on a nearby building and prompt CPR from her friends that saved her life.
Luka, who works with horses, had bought four-year-old Welsh section C Rebel as a project pony just a day earlier and had taken him out for a short ride with friends when she suddenly lost consciousness.
“He was broken in July and I’d just brought him home. I thought I’d stick some tack on him and go for a walk up the road to see how we got on,” Luka told H&H. “We’d only been out for 10mins when it all went wrong. He was as good as gold but according to my friend Lauren I had a fit while on him and slid off the side.
“Apparently I then tried to get back on a few times as I didn’t want to give him a bad experience, especially as he hadn’t done anything wrong.”
Luka was riding with sisters Lauren, Teghan and Caitlyn Jarvis and Rhiannon Hoskins in Goldcliff near Newport in South Wales when the incident happened on 20 September. The girls managed to make it back to the horses’ field but then Luka suffered another seizure.
“I kept coming to and saying I was OK and that I just needed a drink,” she said. “I also told Lauren she needed to take my boots off as they were new and I didn’t want them to be cut off if they had to call an ambulance!”
Luka said she managed to phone her partner to tell him she wasn’t feeling well and he told her she’d probably feel better if she had something to eat. But when she tried to stand up, she collapsed, turned blue and went into cardiac arrest.
The sisters called their mother Lisa Jarvis who phoned an ambulance and ran for the defibrillator while Lauren administered CPR. They shocked Luka twice but it wasn’t until the paramedics arrived 10 minutes later and shocked her again that her heart rhythm was restored.
Luka was taken to University of Wales Hospital, Cardiff where she remained in intensive care on ventilation for three days before regaining consciousness. She was then on a cardiology ward for another three days before asking to be discharged so she could return home to her baby.
“All the doctors really told me was that a little bit of cholesterol had broken off and blocked an artery,” said Luka, who has never suffered from seizures or any serious medical conditions. “I am a smoker but I would never consider myself unhealthy — I weight 9 1⁄2 st and even when I was pregnant I stayed fit and active and I was riding until I was six months. It just seems it was bad luck.”
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Luka said she is taking it easy at the moment and “is on a lot of tablets”. She went to visit Rebel the first day she came out of hospital, just to “give him a pat”.
“The doctor has said I can ride, but as Rebel is only four I am waiting a bit longer as I want to be able to keep things consistent with him,” she said. “I’ll be doing some groundwork and the girls on the yard will be helping me out.”
The defibrillator used on Luka was installed by charity Welsh Hearts, who have already replaced the electrode pads that were used to resuscitate her. The charity provides public access defibrillator packages, which are designed to be used by anyone, as well as CPR training in communities.
“I think it’s really important for more places to have a defibrillator, if it had happened to me at home I probably wouldn’t be here,” Luka said. “It would be brilliant if every primary school or church had one on the outside of the building, as they tend to be in the centre of each village.
“I’m hoping I can raise as much awareness as possible and I’d like to arrange a fun ride to raise money for Welsh Hearts in the future, once lockdown rules allow it,” she added.
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