Personal tragedy sparks desire to donate defib cash

A kind-hearted donor whose partner died from a cardiac arrest has stepped in to pay for a new defibrillator after the McDonald Road unit was smashed by vandals.
Defibrillator donor Diane Harvey with fundraising champion Lynn Cleal on MacDonald Road. Picture: contributedDefibrillator donor Diane Harvey with fundraising champion Lynn Cleal on MacDonald Road. Picture: contributed
Defibrillator donor Diane Harvey with fundraising champion Lynn Cleal on MacDonald Road. Picture: contributed

Charity volunteers were dismayed to find a life-saving heart device they’d installed outside the library had been callously shattered by yobs.

The vandalism left the St John and the City charity project, which has installed more than 135 defibrillators in and around Edinburgh, with a repair bill of hundreds of pounds.

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However, the coverage of the story in the Evening News caught the eye of a compassionate benefactor who offered to pay for a replacement.

Ex-Radio Forth presenter Diane Lester wanted to support a cause that meant a lot to her.

Ten years ago, her then partner, David Harvey, tragically died from a cardiac arrest.

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Anger as yobs trash heart life saving device in Edinburgh

He had been cycling on his way to work when he collapsed in George Street.

Diane said: “Having suffered the shocking loss of David aged just 41, with an undiagnosed heart problem, I learned that age and health are no guarantee of heart longevity.

“David was an active cyclist and judo player.

“A defibrillator may have saved him, so it spurred me on to raise some money, with the help of friends and family, to help get more out there.

“The mindless vandalism of the McDonald Road defibrillator underlines the lack of understanding that heart disease can affect you no matter what age, sex or race.

“No-one knows what’s round the corner, but the presence of these amazing machines may literally save your, or someone you love’s, life.”

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The defibrillator had only been in place a month when it was ripped from railings.

The destroyed unit was discovered the following day dumped on a nearby building site on Brunswick Road, and was able to be repaired.

But damage to the cabinet – which protects the device from frost to ensure it will work when needed in an emergency – meant it couldn’t be re-installed until costly repairs were undertaken.

Defibrillators can greatly increase the chances of surviving cardiac arrest, from a dismal one in 20, to as high as 75 per cent, when used early alongside CPR. Thanks to Diane’s generous donation, the defibrillator cabinet has now been repaired, and the device reinstalled and available to the community.

Diane has also offered to donate funds for another defibrillator as part of St John and the City, and it is hoped it will be placed in George Street, in memory of David.

Lynn Cleal, who leads the St John and the City project was overwhelmed by Diane’s generosity.

“We’re so pleased that due to Diane’s very generous donation, we’ve been able to repair the cabinet for the library defib to get it back up and running.

“Not only that, but thanks to Diane we’ll also be able to install another defibrillator in Edinburgh, increasing access even further to these hugely important, life-saving, devices.”

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The defibrillators are placed in strategic sites, such as churches, community centres and train stations across Edinburgh and the surrounding areas, taking into account the volume of people in the immediate vicinity.

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