Belfast Telegraph

Heart device that's saved lives of many

By Donna Deeney

Few sports could be more prepared for a medical emergency than GAA.

The sudden death of former Tyrone captain Cormac McAnallen in 2004 led his family to form The Cormac Trust, which has popularised the use of defibrillators at sports matches.

The portable defibrillator was invented by Co Down man Professor Frank Pantridge, whose device has transformed emergency medicine on a global scale since it was first installed in a Belfast ambulance in 1965. There are three at Owenbeg, which Cormac's mother Bridget welcomed. "I applaud Derry's attitude to looking after players," Mrs McAnallen said. "The fact they had a defibrillator and they were able to use it, they could restart Kevin's heart."

They have proved crucial at GAA games – and not just for players. One was used on a spectator at a match in Faughanvale GAC in 2011 and proved vital in saving the life of John Dobbins from Brian Og's Club in Steelstown. Club chairman Dr Dave Flanaghan, who used a defibrillator to re-start Mr Dobbins' heart, said at the time: "There is no doubt in my mind that the defibrillator helped save John's life."

The invention by Pantridge –known now as 'the Father of Emergency Medicine' – is also pitch-side in many sports, including Premiership football.

When Fabrice Muamba collapsed during a game in 2012, he was given 15 defibrillation shocks after CPR. His heart stopped for 78 minutes but he survived.

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