Bolton have confirmed theirscheduled Premier Leaguemeeting with Blackburn on Saturday will go ahead, as it was revealed Fabrice Muamba was “effectively dead” for 78 minutes following his cardiac arrest at Tottenham on Saturday.
With Muamba making quicker progress than anyone could have expected following the dramatic events at White Hart Lane, manager Owen Coyle spoke with his players yesterday to see if they wanted to face Blackburn at the weekend.
The answer was positive, while Bolton will also head back to Tottenham on Tuesday to play the rearranged FA Cup quarter-final that had to be abandoned by referee Howard Webb after Muamba’s collapse.
The memories of those harrowing scenes are still fresh in the mind.
Medical staff desperately tried to save Muamba’s life on the pitch before he was rushed to the London Chest Hospital, where the 23-year-old has remained ever since.
Muamba was visited by Thierry Henry yesterday, the latest footballing superstar to express his concern after playing with the former England Under-21 captain during his Arsenal days.
Bolton team doctor Jonathan Tobin made some startling revelations yesterday as he spoke for the first time about the efforts that were made to save Muamba’s life.
After working on Muamba for 48 minutes before his arrival at hospital, Dr Tobin confirmed the player continued to receive treatment for 30 minutes before his heart showed signs of activity.
“In effect he was dead in that time,” Dr Tobin said. “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.
“Now heaven knows why, but Fabrice had, in total, 15 shocks. He had a further 12 shocks in the ambulance.”
Having such an intimate knowledge of Muamba, once he arrived at the hospital on Saturday, Tobin went to a corridor and broke down as he feared the consequences of what had happened.
It was the first chance he had to think. What happened previously was just a blur.
“I can’t begin to explain the pressure that was there,” Tobin said. “This isn’t somebody that’s gone down in the street or been brought into A&E.
“This is somebody that I know, I know his family. This is somebody I consider a friend. This is somebody I joke with on a daily basis.
“As I was running onto the pitch I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, it’s Fabrice’.”
The feelings were just as acute when Muamba grasped Tobin’s hand for the first time.
Indeed, the Congo-born player’s entire recovery has been described as “miraculous” by Dr Andrew Deaner, the cardiologist and Tottenham fan who leapt from his seat in the crowd and rushed onto the pitch to help.
“If you’re going to use the term miraculous, I guess it could be used here,” he said.
Dr Deaner went to visit the player after he had woken up and recalled that Muamba was able to make a joke even that early in his recovery process.
“I whispered into his ear, ‘What’s your name?’,” he said.
The footballer gave his name.
Dr Deaner went on: “I said, ‘I understand you’re a very good footballer’. And he said ‘I try’.”
There are still doubts over whether Muamba will ever play football again and he still has a long road ahead.
“These are the very first steps of a very long pathway that Fabrice is going to go down,” Dr Tobin said.
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