A GRANDFATHER whose heart failed twice while at the wheel of his car has thanked the people who saved his life.

Despite being previously fit and healthy, 65-year-old Robert Hume’s heart failed while driving home from Darlington, leaving his 22-year-old daughter, who cannot drive, to steer the car into some metal railings for safety.

After being pulled from the vehicle by a passer-by, two members of staff from the nearby Darlington Magistrates’ Court rushed out and started life-saving CPR on the father-of-three.

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Two police officers then took over until paramedics arrived, used a defibrillator on him, then took him to Darlington Memorial Hospital.

Mr Hume was later transferred to The James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, where he had a triple heart bypass and an implantable cardioverter defibrillator fitted, which will release an electrical charge to steady his heart rate if it detects a malfunction.

“My heart had shut down and I am very lucky to be here,” he said. “I am indebted to everyone who helped and I would like to thank anybody that did anything on that day.

“I was in the right place at the right time. If I had been on the road to Middleton St George, I probably would have ended up in the hedge.”

Mr Hume is convinced his life was was saved by the CPR carried out by court staff and police officers.

His daughter, Lauren, said: “The hospital staff said that if people hadn’t done CPR on him, he might not be here today. I want to thank all the police, court staff, hospital staff – everybody who helped us. They were amazing.”

Mr Hume’s wife, Marian, 61, said: “You don’t expect him to go out one day and maybe not return. It was fantastic to see that on that day, everybody came together to help one person – you don’t expect that.”

Following Mr Hume’s ordeal, his family is backing The Northern Echo’s A Chance to Live campaign, which has set out to promote the use of heart-start defribrillators in public places.

Mr Hume said: “It can happen to anyone. I looked after myself, didn’t eat lots of fatty food, kept active and yet it still happened.

“Doing CPR or having a defibrillator is a simple thing, but can have a huge impact on someone.”