Fabrice Muamba ‘in effect’ dead for 78 minutes

If there was somehow any doubt as to just how impressive the efforts to save Bolton’s 23-year-old defender Fabrice Muamba after he collapsed on the pitch from a cardiac arrest during Saturday’s FA Cup quarterfinal against Tottenham, the latest details to emerge should clear it up.

Muamba’s heart stopped beating on its own for a total of 78 minutes on Saturday, according to Bolton team doctor Jonathan Tobin. During the 48 minutes between the time of his collapse on the pitch and when he arrived at the hospital (he was taken to the London Chest Hospital, a specialist facility), medics did CPR to breathe for him and circulate and continued to do so for another 30 minutes after arriving at the hospital. During that time, he was given 15 shocks from a defibrillator — two on the pitch, one in the tunnel and 12 in the ambulance — before his heart started beating on its own again.

From the AP:

“They were working on him without his heart having a muscular beat,” Tobin said. “In effect, he was dead in that time … throughout the whole resuscitation period you are worrying.

“You know the longer the resuscitation goes on the less chance there is of survival, but this is slightly different. This is a very fit 23-year-old.”

Fitness and age considered, the fact that he is still alive is also a credit to the hard work of those stadium medics, ambulance workers and hospital staff. One of the first responders wasn’t even on duty that day, though. Dr. Andrew Deaner, a cardiologist, was attending the match as a Tottenham fan and persuaded a steward to let him onto the pitch before running to aid Muamba. He then traveled with Muamba in the ambulance to the hospital where he works.

Muamba came out of sedation in intensive care on Monday and the first question he reportedly asked his father was “did we lose?” With Dr. Deaner, Muamba displayed his modesty.

Two hours after (regaining consciousness) I whispered in his ear, ‘What’s your name?’ and [Dr. Deaner] said, ‘Fabrice Muamba.’ I said, ‘I hear you’re a really good footballer’ and he said, ‘I try.’ I had a tear in my eye.”

On Wednesday, Muamba was visited by New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry. The two played together at Arsenal and have remained friends, so Henry traveled almost 5,000 miles from a match in Salt L

ake City, Utah on Sunday night to London to visit Muamba for about an hour before returning to New York for this Sunday’s match against Colorado.

It’s still unclear just what caused the cardiac arrest, and though Muamba seems to be recovering nicely, it’s impossible to say whether he will ever be able to resume his career. But as The Score’s Richard Whittall says, what truly matters is that he’s alive right now and seems to be in good spirits.

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