Fabrice Muamba was “in effect dead” for almost 80 minutes, doctors revealed as they hailed his “miraculous” recovery from a heart attack.
The Yorkshire-trained cardiologist who rushed on to the pitch to help the 23-year-old Bolton footballer after he suffered a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup match on Saturday said he was already making jokes again while in intensive care.
Dr Andrew Deaner, who graduated from Leeds University School of Medicine in 1987 and now works in NHS and private hospitals in London and Essex, added: “If you’re going to use the term miraculous, it could be used here.”
Bolton’s team doctor Jonathan Tobin, who also rushed to the player’s side, admitted breaking down in tears afterwards, fearing the worst. Speaking at the London Chest Hospital in east London, where Muamba is being treated, he told of the nerve-racking 80 minutes in which Muamba’s heart failed to beat.
“It was 48 minutes from the time he collapsed to the time he reached the hospital and then it was a further 30 minutes in the hospital they were working on him without his heart having a muscular beat,” he said. “(Eighty minutes) without his heart beating and without him breathing – in effect he was dead in that time.”
It took 15 electric shocks to get the player’s heart started after he collapsed, Dr Tobin said.
Consultant cardiologist Dr Sam Mohiddin, who has been caring for Muamba at the hospital, said it was “extraordinary” for someone whose heart stopped beating for so long to make the kind of progress Muamba has.
“Fabrice has continued to demonstrate positive signs of recovery and he has not only exceeded our expectations but also our hopes in the way he’s recovered,” he said. “But this remains very early in what could be a lengthy recovery period.”
Dr Mohiddin said it was “far too early to say” what caused Muamba’s heart to stop.