Singing from the Heart – Isabelle Peters Raises Awareness of Cardiac Risk in the Young

Last October Isabelle Peters’ life hung in the balance when she suffered a cardiac arrest at the Manchester Aquatics Centre. Now, after months of recuperation, the 21-year-old singer is back on track and busy raising funds for Cardiac Risk in the Young.

In September 2013 Isabelle Peters entered her third year at the RNCM. Vibrant and energetic with a beautiful voice, the young soprano was well on her way to completing a BMus degree. But within weeks of the new term starting her life would dramatically change.

On 15 October she suffered a cardiac arrest and fell unconscious during an intensive exercise class at the Manchester Aquatics Centre. Trained staff used a defibrillator to restart her heart before paramedics rushed her to the Manchester Royal Infirmary where she was placed in an induced coma.

‘I don’t remember anything about it, just waking up in hospital but even that’s a blur,’ she said. ‘I can only recall it through the words of the gym staff who said I looked disorientated and was being very slow in my movement. When I collapsed the instructor, Nathan Reed, came over to me and realised I was in serious trouble. He alerted the other members of staff who then evacuated the building and proceeded to perform CPR and use the defibrillator. After this I was taken to the MRI’s critical care unit and put in an induced coma.’

Now, over six months on, Isabelle is making a fantastic recovery and earlier this month – with help from tutor Deborah Rees and fellow RNCM students Joy Becker (violin), Alexander Grainger (tenor) and Tim Kennedy (piano) – presented a charity concert at Redland High School for Girls raising over £3300 for Cardiac Risk in the Young and the Raj K Soni Legacy Fund.

‘It’s so important to raise awareness of Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) in young people, and this was my way of doing that,’ she explained. ‘SDS can occur in seemingly fit and healthy people, but in reality 12 people die from it every week in the UK due to undiagnosed heart defects. I also wanted to raise awareness of the importance of defibrillators in public places as in some cases CPR is often not enough to preserve brain and vital organ function. In my case, the fact that the gym staff were fully trained in first aid, were able to perform effective CPR, and had the use of a defibrillator meant my chances of survival were optimal.’

Isabelle is due to return to the RNCM in September. She concluded: ‘I’m looking forward to returning to College very much and am so pleased I’ve been able to use this recovery time positively.’

1 May 2014