'My heart stopped three times': Heart attack victim thanks lucky stars

Bill with daughters Rhosie and Shopi.
Bill with daughters Rhosie and Shopi.

One moment Bill Wakeham was looking at the light. Then everything became dark.

"It was like someone had turned the switch off," he said.

In fact what was happening was the Canley Vale resident was having a heart attack. Multiple, even.

He had chest pains. He began sweating. And it got worse despite having no prior health issues.

Lucky his brother Michael knew what was going on. He recognised the signs because of his own heart attack the year before. He drove him to Liverpool Hospital as his symptoms presented but even at that early stage Bill couldn't even sit up in the car.

Bill Wakeham looks at the scars of surgery.

Bill Wakeham looks at the scars of surgery.

Surgeon Dr Manish Jain performed emergency open-heart surgery which saved his life.

"They told me my heart stopped three times and they were trying their best to bring me back ... and they did," he said.

Dr Jain described Mr Wakeham's procedure as "not very common."

"Normally you would wait a few days between a balloon pump procedure and open-heart surgery but he was still getting chest pain," he said.

They told me my heart stopped three times and they were trying their best to bring me back and they did.

They told me my heart stopped three times and they were trying their best to bring me back and they did.

A lot has changed for the father-of-five since his multiple heart attacks and cardiac arrest earlier this year.

Bill, who is sharing his story to raise awareness about the importance of a healthy lifestyle, has given up alcohol and cigarettes.

"My surgeon made me promise that I wouldn't drink or smoke. I'm not eating junk anymore because I'm scared of eating anything with salt or chocolate in it and definitely no fizzy drinks. This experience has changed who I am," said Bill, who gets family checking in on him daily following the scare.

"My five-year-old will ring me, worried, asking me when I'm coming home. This has brought us so close together as a family."