Heart Hero Awards: Partner saved caregiver’s life after her heart stopped

Nicki Evans SCA turned around as her partner saved the caregiver's life after her heart suddenly stopped

Lisa Hoddinott, left, was saving the life of her partner and carer Nicki Evans when she suddenly collapsed at home (Image: British Heart Foundation)

For the past decade, Nicki Evans has been used to being her partner Lisa Hoddinott’s carer.

But one day Nicki, 56, was the person whose life had to be saved in a shocking turn of events.

Lisa, 51, told what happened on April 14, 2020 – the day she was forced to literally take Nicki’s life into her hands.

And their story today takes place exactly a year after Danish footballer Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch during Euro 2020 – and survived.

“My memory of that night is that we had dinner and I went and did the dishes,” said Lisa, who has been with Nicki for 15 years.

“When I came back into the living room, Nicki mumbled something and then she just put her hand on her head and flopped back onto the sofa. I ran over to her and knelt in front of her and she made a horrible gurgling sound.

“I just kept calling her name and there was no response other than that horrible noise.

“I knew something was terribly wrong so I slapped her in the face to see if I could get a reaction and there wasn’t one.”

Lisa shouted to Nicki that she was going to call the ambulance and immediately dialed 999, then told them something was “very wrong” but she “didn’t know what.”

Nicki Evans and Lisa turned the tables when her partner saved the caregiver's life after her heart suddenly stopped

Lisa kept Nicki’s heart pumping for six minutes while waiting for paramedics to arrive (Image: British Heart Foundation)

After getting Lisa to check Nicki’s breathing, the call operator told Lisa to get her partner on the floor and quickly begin CPR.

“I just grabbed Nicki’s jeans and lifted them off the sofa onto the floor… I don’t know how I did that,” said Lisa, who is disabled.

“Then the call handler started talking to me and counting me through chest compressions. It was so surreal because everything happened in seconds.

“I had never done CPR training before, but instinctively I found that I just seemed to know what to do… and all I could hear was the call operator counting so fast.”

She said she “felt Nicki’s ribs cracking” as she performed chest compressions for six minutes before paramedics arrived in an ambulance to take over. Six of Nicki’s ribs and her sternum were fractured – injuries that are common in CPR.

“I begged the dispatcher to send an ambulance because my arms were getting tired… it felt like forever, I was in agony too,” added Lisa.

When paramedics arrived, they took over and used a defibrillator to restart Nicki’s heart.

Nicki Evans SCA Hospital turned the tables when her partner saved the caregiver's life after her heart suddenly stopped

Nicki, 56, was the person whose life had to be saved in a shocking turn of events (Image: British Heart Foundation)

Symptoms of cardiac arrest

Cardiac arrest usually happens without warning, according to the British Heart Foundation. When someone is in cardiac arrest, they suddenly collapse and:

  • Will be unconscious
  • Won’t respond
  • Won’t breathe or breathe normally – Not breathing normally can mean they’re making wheezing noises

Without immediate treatment or medical care, the person will die. If you see someone in cardiac arrest, call 999 immediately and begin CPR.

You can use the charity’s free digital training tool to learn how to perform CPR in 15 minutes here.

Lisa said: “At that point I had to go outside, I was in total shock.

“One of my neighbors went to get Nicki’s daughter, Leanne, who lives five doors down, and I was standing in front of the house like a zombie.

“The paramedics called me back to calm Nicki who was now conscious – but really disoriented and angry.

“She looked at me with the biggest smile on her face and said ‘Hello there.’ That was an amazing moment.’

As this happened at the height of the pandemic, Lisa had to stay away from her partner, who was being rushed to University Hospital in Coventry by ambulance.

After Lisa drove the car after her, she was taken aside and Nicki told that she would be placed in an induced coma to allow her body to rest after the trauma.

“The nurse told me I was a hero for what I did,” Lisa said. “But I didn’t think it was me at all. I just did what I had to do.


Nicki was placed in an induced coma to allow her body to recover before a special device was installed (Image: British Heart Foundation)

“I haven’t really allowed myself to be as proud of myself as I know Nicki is of me. It sounds weird, but afterwards I felt very guilty for a long time that I had hurt her during resuscitation. But now I know the alternative would have been worse.

“My message to everyone else who is facing this situation – whether it’s a loved one or a stranger – is to step in and perform CPR.

“I never had an education, but all I knew was that there was someone I loved very much who needed my help. The alternative would have been a lockdown funeral.’

Nicki told “Apparently I touched my head and then just fell back on the sofa. The next thing I remember is waking up in intensive care.

“I saw two people with what appeared to be space helmets… and I later realized they were doctors, it was in the middle of the pandemic and they were wearing hazmat suits.

“I also remember complaining about pain in my ribs and the nurse saying, ‘That was from the CPR that Lisa did.’

Nicki Evans SCA turned the tables when her partner saved the caregiver's life after her heart suddenly stopped

Nicki said she will be “forever grateful” for what Lisa has done for her (Image: British Heart Foundation)

“Apparently I just said, ‘Oh really, I’ll talk to her about it. “Now we’re both laughing about it.”

Due to Covid-19, Nicki was unable to receive visitors during the 19 days she was hospitalized. On May 1, 2020, she was fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) — a device that restores the heart to a regular rhythm when the heart goes into sudden cardiac arrest.

She was also diagnosed with Graves’ disease, dilated cardiomyopathy, heart failure and atrial fibrillation – and was also infected with the corona virus in the hospital.

Nicki said: “I had no history of heart problems. I have high blood pressure and asthma, but I had absolutely no symptoms or signs of this happening before.

“I was on a diet so in 18 months I’d lost about seven pounds and I felt good. But I had a lot of stress in the years before.

“In 2016 my mother died and five weeks later my grandma died, two months later my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness.

“So within a year I lost my mum, my dad and my grandma. Then in 2019 my eldest son James had an aortic aneurysm and almost died and he never really recovered.

To thank Lisa for saving her life, Nicki has nominated her for a British Heart Foundation (BHF) CPR Heart Hero Award – to give her some recognition for what she’s been accomplishing “despite her tremendous mobility issues”. .

Lisa was in a life-changing car accident in 2000 after her car was hit by a drunk driver and she broke her back. She has had three operations on her spine, still takes morphine, and is sometimes confined to a wheelchair due to her limited mobility.

Nicki added, “For the past 10 years I’ve essentially been Lisa’s caregiver…even though she can walk with a cane, she can’t really stand to cook.

Nicki Evans and Lisa turned the tables when her partner saved the caregiver's life after her heart suddenly stopped

Lisa has now been nominated for a BHF CPR Heart Hero Award (Image: British Heart Foundation)

“But that night really turned the tables and she took such amazing care of me when I came home from the hospital and there wasn’t really much I could do for myself.

“Lisa is my absolute hero – not only for me, but also for my children and my grandchildren who could have lost their mother and grandmother. I will forever be grateful to her and I could never thank her enough.’

She said she is much better now, although she often gets tired and suffers from a little memory loss. Lisa has also suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after what happened.

“Now it’s about living in the moment and trying not to think about what happened and doing things that we’ve never done before,” Nicki said.

The British Heart Foundation Heart Hero Awards 2022

A BHF Heart Hero, with as media partner this year, can be anyone, from a healthcare professional doing exceptional work, to a young person with heart disease who has shown incredible courage and determination, to a inspiring fundraiser who found creative ways to fund our research.

Those shortlisted will be invited to an awards ceremony in London on Thursday 1st December where the winners will be announced.

Scottish footballer Scott Allan and TV and radio presenter Will Njobvu are among this year’s celebrity judges, and Vernon Kay is the presenter.

There are eight categories you can vote for, including Young Heart Hero, CPR Hero, and Innovative Fundraiser.

The awards raise awareness of the continued need for funding for the groundbreaking research that is turning science fiction into reality and bringing hope to more than seven million people in the UK living with cardiovascular problems.

To learn more about the categories or to nominate, visit the British Heart Foundation website.

The closing date for entries is May 31, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. Much luck!

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at

For more stories like this, Visit our news page. Heart Hero Awards: Partner saved caregiver's life after her heart stopped

Justin Scacco

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