A GRANDFATHER who died for 15 minutes has thanked Basingstoke medical staff for saving his life.

Rupert Armstrong, known as George, suffered a major heart attack and was rushed to Basingstoke hospital by ambulance.

The 82-year-old had been fit and healthy and was at home on March 23 when he told his wife, Gilly, that he was feeling unwell.

Gilly, 76, said: “He started to sweat and I realised it was a heart attack. I phoned the ambulance and they were here so quickly.”

George’s distraught family was told that he had actually been ‘dead’ for 15 minutes during the ordeal, but he was resuscitated before being put in an induced coma.

Gilly said: “We were told ‘bad news – it’s 50/50, and if he pulls through he will be brain damaged’.”

George’s family prepared for the worst, but the pensioner defied all the odds by coming round after being taken out of the coma the following evening – making a miraculous recovery.

Gilly, a mother-of-four, said: “Within hours he was sat up in bed and being cheeky to the nurses.”

George, who has four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, spent two days in intensive care before being transferred to the cardiac arrest unit at the hospital, in Aldermaston Road.

The former groundsman at the now Sherfield School, said: “The last thing I remember is going into the ambulance and the driver said: ‘hold on mate, it’s a rough old ride’.”

He spent three weeks in hospital in total, and only had praise for the care he received. He said: “They deserve a medal. They work a 12-hour day and are on the run all day. It’s a lovely hospital – it really is.”

George is now recovering at home.

Gilly said of the day George came out of the coma: “I had this feeling come over me of wellbeing. I said to Justin, our son, ‘he’s going to come home’.”