Pitching in for heart health

Footballer Lee Orton has launched a campaign to help save lives after suffering a heart attack while on the pitch. He is also thanking the people who helped save his life. Catherine Scott reports.

Lee Orton with cardiac rehab sister Angela Dysart, left, and physio Kerri Jones.

When Lee Orton collapsed during a football match he was lucky there was a nurse in the crowd who saved his life.

Lee, 30, from Ashbrown, Huddersfield, knows not everyone is so lucky and so he has launched a campaign to get defibrillators at football pitches across Huddersfield and Calderdale.

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“I was fit and healthy and trained every day having been a semi-professional footballer. I was just playing an evening match at the end of August.

“We were winning and I’d just scored a goal when apparently the ball hit me in the chest and I collapsed. Apparently my heart stopped.”

Nurse Mark Martin massaged Lee’s heart for 10 minutes, until the paramedics arrived and used a defibrillator to restart his heart.

“If it hadn’t been for Mark I would have died. I haven’t met him yet but how to you thank someone who saved your life.

“You can’t just buy them a bottle of whisky and say thanks. I just don’t have the words,” says Lee.

Contracts manager Lee was taken to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary before being transferred to Calderdale Royal Hospital where he had an ICD – Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator – fitted in October.

Although Lee went back to work three weeks after the cardiac arrest, he now has to take life easy.

“They still don’t really know why it happened so it is really hard to know what I can and can’t do.

“They have said my sister should get checked but it is hard when they don’t now what they are looking for,” he says.

“Everyone else I have met who’s had an ICD is in their 60s and are twice my age and have different issues. Some doctors says I can do some things others say I can’t. They have said .”

Lee has now started the Goals 4 Hearts Appeal with the ultimate aim of having lifesaving defibrillators at sports complexes and grounds across the town and is himself doing gentle training under the supervision of the Trust’s cardiac rehab team.

He is due to present his first defibrillator – donated by his employers County Technical Services – to the Leeds Road Playing Fields, in Huddersfield, this week.

“The hospital staff were absolutely amazing and I vowed I would do something to help others if I came out the other side,” says Lee.

“There are eight matches at Leeds Road every Saturday with 22 players in each. So with the defibrillator there it means if anything happens to any one of them there is a better chance of them surviving.

“In every family there is a son, a daughter, a brother, a cousin, a Dad playing football and there is so much support for this campaign.”

Deputy manager of the cardiology department, James Battye, said: “To have automated defibrillators and access to basic life support training at all local football clubs could ultimately save a person’s life.

Lee would also like to meet Fabrice Muamba, who suffered a cardiac arrest during a televised FA Cup match between Bolton and Tottenham Hotspur.

The rhythm of life has an... ICD

The cardiology device team at Calderdale Royal Hospital has performed approximately 150 Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) procedures since the service started more than six years ago.

The ICD sits under the skin close to the heart and when it detects a fast irregular life-threatening heartbeat it emits a small electric shock which returns the heartbeat to a normal one.

Consultant, Colin Welsh, said: “After tests within the hospital an ICD can be implanted to treat any further episodes throughout a patient’s life and we are delighted the service is available locally.”