Fabrice Muamba could make a return to playing professional football, according to FIFA’s medical chief.
Muamba’s recovery from a cardiac arrest that saw his heart stop beating for 78 minutes has stunned doctors, but it is still uncertain whether he could play again.
Jiri Dvorak, FIFA’s medical chief, said the likely underlying cause of Muamba’s heart attack – a condition called arrhythmia – could be controlled and possibly allow him to return to professional football.
He highlighted the example of Craig Hulse, an American player who has played more than 100 games since suffering a cardiac arrest three years ago and who came to FIFA’s medical conference in Budapest to speak of his experience.
Dvorak said: “I think this is something which the cardiologist has to decide but if the underlying reason is arrhythmia – which it probably is – then theoretically it’s possible.
“He has received the internal automatic defibrillator so yes he could return.
“There is a young American player who had a cardiac arrest three years ago when he was aged 26 and resuscitated successfully and he has played more than 100 competitive matches since.”
Bolton’s doctor Jonathan Tobin, who helped saved Muamba’s life by his swift treatment after the collapse during the FA Cup match at Tottenham in March, said no decision had been taken about the midfielder’s future.
Tobin said: “It is still too early to be having those discussions they will be decided by Fabrice and the cardiologists down in London.”
Tobin also said he had been convinced that Muamba would not survive.
“Once we got to the hospital and the cardiologists took over the lead of the care and I could take a step back, then everything just hit me,” he said.
“It was just awful. I was sitting in the corridor crying my eyes out.
“The longer it went on without him getting a response – and it was 78 minutes in total.
“There was 40 minutes when he was at the hospital and you are just waiting for some to say ’No, it’s...’
“The stuff the guys did at the hospital was just phenomenal.”