Milk Cup teen in stable condition
The family of a young footballer who had to be revived at a Milk Cup match breathed a sigh of relief after he was said to be "stable" following delicate heart surgery last night.
Christopher McNeill's parents and siblings maintained an anxious vigil as he underwent a heart operation lasting several hours at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
The 17-year-old Co Londonderry footballer collapsed and stopped breathing just minutes into a Milk Cup fixture on Monday evening.
The Portstewart teen was dramatically revived on the pitch in his native town by the father of one of his team-mates, Derry doctor Michael Healy.
The youth was resuscitated and a defibrillator administered with assistance from a St John's ambulance crew, before he was rushed to the local hospital in Coleraine.
He was later transferred to the Royal ahead of the specialist microsurgery last night.
His father Denis McNeill spoke to the Belfast Telegraph from his son's bedside after the crucial operation.
"They have identified a condition in the heart area which can cause cardiac arrest.
"However, the surgeon was not convinced the particular condition caused the cardiac arrest.
"The surgeon was very good, very frank and very informative.
"We are happy, but everyone will have peace of mind following further tests."
Mr McNeill said the medical team at the Royal Victoria Hospital were "fantastic" and had told him Christopher's recovery would be aided by his fitness and "good strength".
Last night, a spokeswoman for the Belfast Trust described Christopher's condition as "stable following surgery".
Northern Ireland company, HeartSine - the only manufacturer of defibrillators in the UK or Ireland - last night contacted the Belfast Telegraph with an offer to supply enough of the machines to cover every fixture at the Milk Cup.