British Columbia

77-year-old UBC student thanks classmates who performed CPR for 20 minutes after heart attack

A senior University of British Columbia student is thanking several classmates for saving his life, four months after students at the school's Kelowna campus gave him cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for more than 20 minutes.

Murray Forbes, 77, finally got to thank his UBC Okanagan saviours in person

UBC Okanagan student Murray Forbes, 77, hugs classmate Kim Davarani during a meeting in which he got to directly thank her and other classmates who gave him more than 20 minutes of CPR in February after he had a heart attack on campus. (UBC)

A senior University of British Columbia student is thanking several classmates for saving his life four months after students at the school's Kelowna campus gave him cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for at least 20 minutes.

Murray Forbes, a 77-year-old engineering student at UBC Okanagan, suffered a heart attack on his way to class in February.

"I turned into a very populated part of the campus and collapsed," he told CBC News, "I have no recollection of that except that's where I was found."

He survived thanks to three fast-acting fellow students who found him soon after he fell and gave him CPR.

This week, he finally found his chance to thank his Okanagan campus rescuers directly, as well as the campus security officer who raced to the scene with a defibrillator.

"Obviously, I was very grateful and wanted to say thank you," Forbes said in a phone interview.

Classmate kicked in to help

The students were members of the school's volunteer Emergency First Responder Team; according to a statement from UBC on Thursday,

One of those first on scene in February was first-year student Marissa Burfield.

"I could see people standing around a man lying on the ground," she said in a statement released by UBC. "I couldn't really believe it was happening; it was a bit of a shock.

"But my muscle memory kicked in. You can train so much, but once you're in a situation, you don't think — you just move."

Three years ago, Forbes was featured in a CBC News story about being the university's oldest student at the time. 

Murray Forbes, second from left, was the oldest student at the University of British Columbia at the time of his interview with CBC News in 2019. (UBC)

"I enjoy it," he said in a 2019 interview. "I'm in good health, and I would probably shrivel up and die if I didn't have something worthwhile to do." 

And though his heart attack this year forced him to drop two courses, he completed his third. Despite the setback, he­ said he­­­ plans to retake the missed classes next term.

77-year-old UBC Okanagan engineering student Murray Forbes recounts the day he had a cardiac arrest on campus, being saved by a group of fellow students

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David P. Ball

Journalist

David P. Ball is a multimedia journalist with CBC News in Vancouver. He has previously reported for the Toronto Star, Agence France-Presse, and The Tyee, and has won awards from the Canadian Association of Journalists and Jack Webster Foundation. You can send story tips or ideas to david.ball@cbc.ca, or contact him on Twitter.

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