Northern Ireland man had key role in saving Christian Eriksen’s life

A Northern Ireland man had a huge role to play in saving the life of Danish international footballer Christian Eriksen.

Sunday, 13th June 2021, 2:45 pm
Updated Sunday, 13th June 2021, 2:45 pm
Denmark's players react as paramedics attend to Denmark's midfielder Christian Eriksen after he collapsed on the pitch during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group B football match between Denmark and Finland at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen on June 12, 2021. (Photo by FRIEDEMANN VOGEL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The ex-Tottenham midfielder collapsed from suspected heart problems during his country’s game against Finland at the Euro 2020 clash on Saturday evening, and had to receive lifesaving pitchside treatment as fans and players looked on in horror.

The 29-year-old was given CPR and treated with a portable defibrillator – one of the most important inventions of the 20th century, which came into being thanks to the late Professor Frank Pantridge.

The Hillsborough physician, who died in 2004, invented the device with his team at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast with the help of a research grant from the British Heart Foundation.

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Prof Frank Pantridge RUA, Inventor of Defibulator pictured in July 78. Pic by Pacemaker Press Ltd

The first portable defibrillator was installed in a Belfast ambulance in 1965.

Head of British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland Fearghal McKinney said Eriksen’s sudden collapse was a “stark reminder that a cardiac arrest can strike anyone, anywhere and anytime, without warning”.

He said: “If someone suffers a cardiac arrest, it’s vital they receive immediate CPR and defibrillation to give them the best chance of resuscitation. Thankfully it seems this was the case for Christian.”

He said that BHF NI is particularly proud to have funded Prof Frank Pantridge.

Fearghal said: “The BHF has been at the forefront of trying to bring an end to heartbreak of out of hospital cardiac arrests since we were formed in 1961. One of the first people we funded was Professor Frank Pantridge right here in Belfast.

“We gave him a grant of £2,300 for his work in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

“Prof Pantridge was an amazing man who has saved lives all over the world. We are incredibly proud to have played a part in his research success.”

BHF NI has been campaigning for CPR training and defibrillator awareness to be mandatory in post-primary schools in the Province.

They provide post-primary schools with free training kits called Call, Push Rescue with all that is required to learn CPR, so there is no cost to the school.

Fearghal said: “Through the work of BHF NI more than two thirds of post-primary schools here can offer CPR training. But we need to go further to make sure that every young person leaves school with the skills to save a life.”

Mr McKinney said: “In Northern Ireland in a typical year 1,400 people suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Fewer than ten per cent of them survive to be discharged from hospital. Survival rates are higher in places where more people are trained to perform CPR and are willing to intervene.

“That is why we at BHF NI want to ensure that all children in post-primary schools in Northern Ireland are trained in CPR by making it mandatory to learn this life saving skill.”

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