With former Japanese Prime Minister Abe pale and lifeless, a doctor at the scene prayed for a miracle

TOKYO, July 19 (Reuters) – The moment he laid eyes on Shinzo Abe’s ashen face, Shingo Nakaoka knew any attempt to revive the former Japanese prime minister would likely be futile.

By the time the 64-year-old doctor rushed to the scene from his nearby clinic minutes after Abe was shot on July 8, the stricken lawmaker’s face was bloodless from deep gunshot wounds to his neck.

“What struck me immediately was how pale his face looked,” Nakaoka told Reuters by phone days after the assassination. Read more

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“When we massaged his heart, his body did not shake. He was barely conscious and he was so pale I knew immediately he was in critical danger.”

A doctor at the clinic of the same name, Nakaoka said he sprang into action when a patient who was present when Abe was shot rushed in in a panic, shouting at him to come help.

With her nurses, Nakaoka descended the three flights of stairs and a short distance to the stage. Someone who appeared to be in Abe’s entourage immediately handed him an automated external defibrillator (AED), but it didn’t turn on, he said.

One of his three nurses ran to the clinic to get another machine.

But when he connected it to Abe, a voicemail from AED said “not applicable,” Nakaoka said. It can happen when the heart is beating normally, or not at all.

The local fire department newspaper published last week showed first responders assumed Abe was in cardiac arrest minutes after the shooting.

Without further recourse, Nakaoka took turns with his nurses to manually pump Abe’s chest.

But with too much blood lost, there was little chance of resuscitation on the spot, he said.

“At the time, I was so desperate,” Nakaoka said.

Abe, 67, who had given a pre-election campaign speech in support of another party member, was unresponsive throughout, Nakaoka said.

An ambulance arrived at 11:41 a.m., about 11 minutes after Abe fell, a Nara City Fire Department spokesman said.

“It was extremely long,” Nakaoka said. “He had to get to a big medical center quickly to stop the bleeding.”

The helicopter carrying Abe’s clinically dead body arrived at Nara Medical University Hospital – about 20 km (12 miles) away – at 12:20 p.m.

“Looking back on it now, there were times when I had no idea what my body was doing,” Nakaoka said.

“What I remember very clearly is frantically praying for a miracle so that somehow this man – who was irreplaceable to Japan and the world – could be saved.”

Japan’s longest-serving prime minister was pronounced dead at 5:03 p.m.

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Reporting by Ju-min Park and Satoshi Sugiyama; Additional reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Lincoln Feast

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