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Ten-year-old Bar Hill boy survives 301bpm heart rate

By Alex Spencer

Jack Searle, front right, who had to have pioneering surgery at Great Ormond Street. Picture: Keith Heppell
Jack Searle, front right, who had to have pioneering surgery at Great Ormond Street. Picture: Keith Heppell

A 10-year-old boy amazed doctors after he walked into hospital with a heart rate that topped 301 beats per minute, which should have killed him.

Jack and Harry Searle. Picture: Keith Heppell
Jack and Harry Searle. Picture: Keith Heppell

Nurses who admitted football-mad Jack Searle to A&E at Addenbrooke’s had to check their equipment after his heart rate raced to extraordinary levels.

Mum Laura Searle, 37, from Bar Hill, said: “We got a call from his primary school to say that Jack was ill. When his dad arrived at the hospital with him, Jack was assessed by the triage nurses. They couldn’t believe he had actually walked in with such a high heart rate. He should have been dead.

“I was racing there from work and was just a few minutes away when his dad phoned me to tell me to come quick. I was in an absolute panic and when I got there Jack was completely grey and had so many doctors working on him that I couldn’t get near his bed. It was the most horrendous feeling in the world seeing him look so ill.”

Doctors gave Jack medication to bring down his heart rate and had to massage the carotid artery in his neck to save his life. After that he spent the night in intensive care with his worried mum watching over him.

Jack and Harry Searle. Picture: Keith Heppell
Jack and Harry Searle. Picture: Keith Heppell

“They didn’t dare send me home,” explained Laura. “They wanted me to keep him as calm as possible so his heart rate didn’t go up again.”

After the dramatic night in Addenbrooke’s Jack was diagnosed with a condition called supraventricular tachycardia, which means the heart has an extra pathway that causes extra electrical impulses to increase the heart rate.

“We were sat down and told Jack needed an operation on his heart to destroy the extra pathway that was causing the problem. The consultant warned us that if the operation did not work, Jack may end up needing a pacemaker at age 10.”

In order to prepare him for the operation, which was to be carried out by a paediatric cardiology specialist at Great Ormond Street Hospital, Jack was told to rest completely and give up his beloved football while medication controlled his heart rate.

Jack Searle, front right. Picture: Keith Heppell
Jack Searle, front right. Picture: Keith Heppell

Laura said: “The medication made him very tired and he was really down about not being able to play sport but his friends all rallied around and brought a ‘boredom box’ for him which was full of magazines, games and sweets. They were really kind.”

In June Jack was finally ready to have his operation. “It was probably the second worst thing I have ever witnessed, after seeing Jack in A and E that day. He couldn’t have a sedative through a cannula in his hand so he had to be put under by gas. It was so upsetting. Then we were told to go away for four hours whilst he was operated on. It was the longest four hours.”

Luckily, surgeons quickly discovered the malfunctioning part of Jack’s heart and were able to destroy it through ablation (burning). He is expected to make a complete recovery.

“We’re absolutely delighted Jack has come through this. I can’t thank Addenbrookes and Great Ormond Street enough and he even played his first football match last week,” said Laura.

Jack’s little brother Harry, aged eight, felt the same way. He decided he wanted to raise money for the hospitals in his own special way.

Harry explains: “I decided that I want to raise £113.32 for the paediatric cardiology department at Addenbrooke’s hospital and then double that again for Great Ormond Street Hospital because of what they have both done for Jack and to buy some new equipment for the other poorly boys and girls who need help too.

“I told Mummy that I wanted to stand on the ring road of Bar Hill holding the sign I wrote with my favorite hat, my busby, as my collecting plate, but Mummy thought that wasn’t a very good idea.”

But when Laura shared the charming story on WhatsApp with her family, they had soon collected more than the £113 Harry was aiming for. The next day he told his teacher that he wanted to raise more money and she agreed to run a non uniform day. Since then, Harry has gained a Virgin Money fundraising page and has raised more than £3,000 for his campaign. The cash has come from raffles, donations from York Cup and Bar Hill Sports and Social Club, the local cricket club and the Masonic Lodge. Harry intends to keep fundraising until Christmas when he will hand over the cash to the two hospitals.

Laura added: “I’m very proud of Harry. It was amazing for an eight year old boy to turn around and say I want to do something for other people because this is important - it blew us away.”

The next event will be on October 13 at Bar Hill Sport and Social Club where a third of the profits from their Motown Soul night will go to Harry’s campaign.

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