By Hollie Bone and Daniel Bird
A former soldier who died for 23 minutes has been reunited with the man who saved his life after he popped to the shops for mushrooms.
James Shannon, 66, and Chris Massingham, 26, both from Litherland, Merseyside, reunited at the weekend on the same road where Chris sprung into action after spotting James collapse when he suffered heart failure last month.
The retired army veteran fell to the floor ‘like a sack of spuds’ before Chris, a freight operations clerk, performed CPR for nearly half an hour while waiting for paramedics to arrive.
After the pair reunited on Saturday [March 16] the granddad-of-six thanked Chris with a teddy for his newborn son, Leo, emblazoned with ‘my daddy’s a superhero.’
Grateful James, who doesn’t remember the events of the day, said: “I can only go on what I was told as I don’t remember anything about that day, but I know I was technically dead for 23 minutes.
“Since looking back and putting everything in order it becomes more and more unbelievable.
“I wasn’t going to go to the shop but I went to put a bet on and he just decided to go to the shop to go for stuff for tea.
“If we hadn’t gone, I’d have been in the flat on my own and I’d be dead.
“Someone is definitely looking down on me, there’s just too many factors there that don’t make sense.
“Often people are often scared to do things like that and get involved.”
Filling in the parts that James can’t remember, Chris recalled how the scene unfolded during his trip to get mushrooms.
Chris, who is not a first aider and had never before performed CPR, said: “I heard a thump across the road and I looked over and saw two ladies helping a man on the floor.
“I went over and noticed they didn’t have him in the recovery position so I moved him into that.
“His eyes were glazed and barely open and his tongue was at the roof of his mouth.
“One of the women started performing CPR but it didn’t seem to be working so we agreed between us that I should take over.
“After the ambulance service arrived, I said ‘I only popped out to get mushrooms’ and one guy patted me on the back and said ‘well you’ve saved a life’.’”
Chris performed CPR for 30 minutes until ambulance crews arrived and took James to Liverpool’s Broadgreen Hospital, where he remained unconscious for another four days.
Eventually paramedics were able to find a heart rhythm from James’ body, but he has since been told that if Chris and the other quick-thinking passers-by hadn’t started CPR immediately, he would have died.
After he was discharged from hospital, the grandad was eager to meet his hero.
Chris said: “I didn’t feel scared when I was doing it, I think I just had a rush of adrenaline, I just knew it had to be done.
“But when they asked me to stop and I started looking at the scene and thinking about his family, the situation started to dawn on me a bit.
“I was shaky for a few hours after it had happened, as soon as I got back home I got a beer from the fridge.
“As I left everyone involved was saying well done to each other.
“When I met James in person it took me back because I could see the life in his face, it was quite strange but I’m so thankful I popped out for mushrooms that day.”
James added: “My dad had a heart attack at 67 and his dad had one at 67 too, and I’ll be 67 soon so I think I’ve dodged a bullet. I think about it all the time.
“There’s no way I can pay him back for what he did that day.
“Meeting up was quite emotional because I know it could have been the end for me.
“I gave him a hug and shook his hand. We sat and had a chat and we exchanged phone numbers.
“He’s a really good lad.”