If you suffered a heart attack and a cardiac arrest within a week of each other, you would be forgiven for slowing down – but this Lincoln man, inspired by Christian Eriksen, is back playing sport less than a year later with a device fitted to his chest.
“Wednesday, May 19, 2021: I will never ever forget that date.” Those were the words of Edgar Lacia, a 46-year-old man in Lincoln who saw his life turned upside down in the blink of an eye.
Edgar was born in the Philippines, moving to Lincoln in 2006 with his wife, who he shares four children with, aged 22, 19, 18 and 12. The family all play club volleyball separately, but Edgar’s first love was basketball.
Edgar has been a lover of basketball for more than 30 years, and he went to play with some friends at Monks Abbey Playing Field when he noticed a slight pain in his chest, along with a slight feeling of thirst.
It didn’t seem anything too serious, so Edgar went home to get a drink of water before his wife, a qualified nurse, said he should call an ambulance as he was feeling his chest pain get worse.
Paramedics arrived and after examining him at his house, they told Edgar: “You’re having a heart attack right now, we need to take you into hospital.”
Doctors discovered a block in an artery, so that was cleared and Edgar was kept in hospital for two days before being discharged. He was told the heart attack survival was ‘the start of a second life’, but that second life would not last long at all.
Just seven days after his heart attack, Edgar’s body went stiff while he was asleep. His wife noticed something was wrong and quickly realised he was in cardiac arrest.
After his eldest son, 18 at the time, and his wife administered CPR for 15 minutes, paramedics again arrived at his home and used defibrillator shocks to try to jog his heartbeat again.
Edgar explained: “I think it was really traumatising for my son, but he and my wife must understand that they are the heroes here. Without their help I think I would have died.”
Twelve defibrillations and 45 minutes later, Edgar somehow was revived, though he had vicious burn marks that didn’t go away for a number of months. He had a heartbeat downtime of one hour, meaning his heart was unresponsive all that time.
He was then fitted with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibriliator (ICD), which is a device planted in the chest of someone with dangerously abnormal heart rhythms.
It works similarly to a pacemaker, but it administers electric shocks to the heart if it stops beating or slows dramatically. Edgar is checked out once a year and was told by doctors it was working perfectly at his last checkup in January.
In fact, his ICD is so strong he has been told even if he were to be hit where it is placed, nothing bad will happen. A doctor told him a story about a man who had a bullet fired at his ICD, and he was fine.
Edgar was and is a healthy, active individual who didn’t smoke, didn’t drink and played sport multiple times a week. There were no major warnings of this happening, it appeared from nowhere.
The Lincolnite went to meet Edgar at the scene of his heart attack, the basketball court on Monks Abbey, discussing how his life has changed since that harrowing week in May last year.
“It definitely makes you more conscious of your body and heart,” he said. “Your perspectives on life change completely, I could have been depressed about it but instead I used it as motivation and a chance to keep living my life to the fullest.”
His road to recovery has been one that draws a number of parallels with that of Danish footballer Christian Eriksen, who suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch during a Euro 2020 football match last summer.
Eriksen was fitted with the same ICD that is currently in Edgar’s body, and the Brentford footballer has gone from looking down the barrel of death to playing back at an elite level in less than a year. His story inspired Edgar to keep going and rekindle his love for sport.
Edgar told The Lincolnite: “Christian Eriksen is my idol. When I was fitted with the same ICD as him and saw him recover enough to get back playing football I decided that if he could do it then so could I.
“Friends and family told me to take it easy and look after myself for a while, but I had the same mentality as Eriksen – he trusted his doctors and his heart, and so do I.
“Eriksen’s downtime was five minutes, mine was an hour, so I actually beat him at something! He’s my biggest inspiration and I would love to meet him one day, that would be a dream.”
Edgar is now playing basketball twice a week, volleyball twice a week, and goes to the gym two to three times a week. His secret? “Never give up.”
“There were hard times for sure, but I had to put a brave face on and be strong for my family. I am so grateful for the time I now get to spend with my wife and children, as well as keeping active and playing sports I love.
“I always had the motivation to get back playing. I was more excited than worried about coming back, my family were scared obviously but I have total trust in the doctors who helped save my life.”