A rugby player survived a mid-game heart attack with quick thinking from bystanders

Oct 27, 2021

A rugby game in New Jersey last weekend went from friendly competition to a near-death medical emergency in minutes.

Montclair Rugby Football Club player Tevita Bryce was setting up a play when he collapsed to his knees and had a heart attack on the field. The opposing team, Morris Men's Rugby, had a medical trainer who was able to start chest compressions.

Soon after, players and spectators jumped in to help, while waiting for first responders to arrive. There were two trauma nurses in the crowd and a player from the Morris team is a police officer.

"They immediately coordinated what they were doing," Jake Feury, a player on the Morris club, told Goff Rugby Report. "Some were doing chest compressions, others doing airway breaths, or checking his pulse, and they rotated in this systematic way."

Fortunately for Bryce, there was also an automated external defibrillator, or AED, at the field.

An AED can check the heart's rhythm. It can also send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm, when someone is going through cardiac arrest.

Without the help from those on the field and the use of an AED, Bryce's chances of survival may have been slim. According to the American Heart Association, 90% of people who experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital die.

Administering CPR can double or triple a person's chance of survival.

On Tuesday, Bryce was able to make it out of the ICU at St. Clares Denville Hospital. He posted on a GoFundMe page set up to help with his medical bills that he still "has a long way to go" and will be doing cardiac rehab.

"He's a fighter. ... Will be a long road to recovery but thankfully he's alive," Bryce's brother-in-law Lopeti Tu'ipulotu wrote on the fundraiser's page.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.