13 August 2013
EVERY football pitch around the globe should have emergency care equipment on hand to help treat any players that suffer the same condition as former footballer Fabrice Muamba, experts have said.
The ex-Bolton Wanderers midfielder was effectively dead for more than an hour when he collapsed following a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup match last year.
Now researchers have said officials at games around the world should adopt a universal standard of emergency medical care. In June this year, the emergency medical bag was sent to all of the 209 member associations of Fifa.
And the guidance on sudden cardiac arrest – the leading cause of sudden death in football – outlines “fundamental measures” to prevent a player dying from the condition, the experts said.
Take time to search the full collection of recent newspapers and blogs and you’ll soon find the stories of children dying suddenly at school. Kyle Rees, 16, died after he was hit on the head by a cricket ball in February;Leonie Nice, 12, collapsed and died after she was hit on the chest by a rugby ball; Luke Chapman, 15, collapsed and died after swallowing his tongue during a rugby match.
Could these problems have been detected, or the accidents averted, if these children had been screened beforehand? Sadly, no, because a sudden cardiac arrest and other causes of sudden death can be brought on by a seemingly inconspicuous accident. The case of Fabrice Muamba(Report, 19 March), who had been screened four times for cardiac problems prior to his collapse last Saturday, shows screening cannot guarantee anything. Nor can the installation of defibrillators, and this is not something we would claim, but there are differences between the two policies which make the latter preferable. A sudden cardiac arrest can be caused by a blow to the chest or choking, and a screening is no guarantee that long-term problems would be detected anyway. Once a cardiac arrest has occurred, the first 10 minutes are vital and an on-site defibrillator will give the patient a huge boost (6% up to 74%) in terms of survival chances if it can be applied immediately.
We’d love to see both the provision of screening and distribution of defibrillators improved for schools. But we’d argue that screening will only benefit a minority of cases and should not take precedence over providing defibrillators, which will have benefits in any resuscitation situation. They are a vital piece of safety equipment, for everybody, and will save children’s lives. An improvement in screening is necessary, butHand on Heart will continue to focus on its mission to provide free defibrillators and CPR training to UK schools.
Chairman, Hand on Heart Charity
Fabrice Muamba, the Bolton Wanderers footballer, is ‘critically ill’ in the London Chest Hospital after suffering a suspected cardiac arrest during Saturday’s FA Cup quarter final with Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
Club medical staff and paramedics used CPR and defibrillation as Muamba, 23, fought for his life on the pitch.
Bolton said that the midfielder was “in a critically ill condition in intensive care”.
Shortly before half-time, Muamba collapsed without warning and players swiftly signalled for help. There had been no previous indication that he was in distress before he suddenly lost consciousness, and the gravity of the situation swiftly became apparent. Bolton manager Owen Coyle was heard to shout “he’s just collapsed” and rush on to the pitch, while players from both teams were clearly distraught.
One report claimed that a consultant cardiologist, who was watching the game from the stands, rushed on to the pitch to help treat Muamba. He received heart massage from paramedics for approximately six minutes before being carried to the tunnel on a stretcher. He continued to receive CPR while on the stretcher and had a mask to help with his breathing — defibrillators were also used in the tunnel.
Referee Howard Webb decided to abandon the match, which stood at 1-1, with the players clearly in no fit state to continue. Coyle and club captain Kevin Davies accompanied Muamba to hospital. Fans in the stands chanted Muamba’s name before slowly dispersing while on the social network site, Twitter, there was an outpouring of support from the football community.