Sam Polledri: Devastated mother says ‘her beautiful boy’ should still be alive as she installs a defibrillator

‘A beautiful boy who should still be here’

The mother of a young rugby player who died suddenly from a heart attack in Bristol city centre has installed a defribillator in his memory - and the hopes that it will save lives.

Sam Polledri, the younger brother of former Bristol rugby player and Italy back-rower Jake Polledri, collapsed in Milennium Square after suffering a cardiac arrest earlier this year.

‘Fit and healthy’ Sam Polledri died of a heart attack in Bristol city centre age just 24.

He was just 24 and devastatingly, it is thought he might have survived if a defibrillator had reached him on time.

Sam’s mum Louise Polledri said there were five defibrillators in the vicinity, but because they were inside buildings and none of them were registered or accessible to the public, they didn’t make it to her son.

Sam’s death from a heart attack devastated the community and came as a huge shock to his family as he was young, fit and healthy.

It’s why she has installed an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) near the Planetarium at We The Curious and is fundraising with the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity for more to be placed around the city.

Louise also wants people to learn how to use the defibrillators and how to perform CPR, which takes just a few minutes, to help prevent further deaths.

She told BristolWorld: “Sam was beautiful inside and out. Kind, loving, generous and funny. Just a beautiful boy who should still be here.

Sam with his older brother, Jake Polledri.

“He loved life, loved his friends and family, adored his girlfriend, loved animals and loved going on holiday.”

Louise described how because Sam was a keen rugby player, ate well and exercised in the gym every day. He was ‘fit and healthy’ as far as his family was concerned.

“He was dancing in my kitchen an hour before he went down,” she said. “I still have a video of him.

Sam’s mother Louise Polledri speaks to BristolWorld.

“And if a defibrillator could have been publicly accessed outside, where it is now, he had a 74% chance of survival if it got to him within three to five minutes.

“We need more outdoor defibrillators around to save lives. Nobody wants to go through what are going through as a family - it’s horrendous, it’s catastrophic, it’s unbelievable.

“Sam would be proud of us. He’s up there looking down on us and he would be so proud of us for helping others. He loved and helped everyone.”

At the time of his brother’s passing, Jake Polledri, who plays rugby for Gloucester, said: Sam was my brother, my best friend and a massive supporter of me always. He had so many plans, a lot of love to give and so many things yet to achieve.

People learn CPR at an event which saw the installation of the defibrillator in Millenium Square.

“Sam lit up any room he walked into. Selfless, funny and kind. I’m so sorry that his life has been robbed.”

The brothers are sons of Peter Polledri who represented Bristol and captained England’s under-23s, as well as playing for Gloucestershire and Clifton.

Every year in the UK, 30,000 people suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. For every minute that passes, a person’s chance of survival goes down by 10%. Sadly, only 1 in 10 survive.

Sam may still be here if a defibrillator had reached him on time.

Right now, only 40% of people receive early CPR and fewer than 2% have a defibrillator used prior to the ambulance arriving.

Having an accessible AED nearby increases the chance of survival for someone suffering a cardiac arrest by up to 70%.

For more information on The Sam Polledri Foundation and to donate, visit: https://greatwesternairambulance.enthuse.com/cf/sam-polledri-foundation