Doctor: Muamba 'dead for 78 minutes' despite 15 shocks


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These are still early days and this type of road to recovery can be fraught with setbacks but a full picture of Fabrice Muamba's emergence from catastrophic heart failure became clear last night, illustrating that his survival has been little less than miraculous.

As i reported yesterday, Muamba's club, Bolton, will fulfil their relegation fixture with Blackburn on Saturday and replay on Tuesday the FA Cup quarter-final with Tottenham Hotspur that was abandoned after the 23-year-old collapsed on the pitch.

But as Owen Coyle yesterday took his first training session since then, the Bolton team doctor Jonathan Tobin revealed that the England Under-21 midfielder needed 15 defibrillator shocks as medical staff took 78 minutes to get the heart beating again. Dr Tobin also told of the frenzied scenes in the ambulance from White Hart Lane, the sheer physical effort in working on the player in that confined space – and his conviction that Muamba stood minimal chance of surviving after arrival at the London Chest Hospital.

Medical staff worked on Muamba for 48 minutes between his collapse and arrival at the hospital, where another 30 minutes were needed to get his heart working on its own. "In effect, he was dead in that time," said Dr Tobin.

Muamba received two shocks from the defibrillator on the pitch as medical staff from both clubs struggled to get his heart going. Recalling the moment he arrived, with the player face down on the ground, Dr Tobin said: "I can't begin to explain the pressure that was there. Fabrice was in a type of cardiac arrest where the heart is showing lots of electrical activity but no muscular activity. It's something that often responds to drugs and shocks. Fabrice had12 shocks in the ambulance."

The consultant cardiologist Dr Sam Mohiddin, who has been caring for Muamba at the hospital, said it was "extraordinary" for someone whose heart has stopped beating for as long as that to make the kind of progress he has made. "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.

Dr Andrew Deaner, the cardiologist and Spurs fan who leapt from his seat and rushed on to the pitch to help, said: "If you're going to use the term miraculous, I guess it could be used here."