Barnstaple rugby team in shock after Lewis Joce's heart stops
A RUGBY player who collapsed on the pitch on Saturday is awake and in a stable condition in hospital, thanks to his quick thinking team-mate and paramedics.
There were fears for Barnstaple player Lewis Joce, 19, after he stopped breathing and his heart stopped when he collapsed five minutes into a match against Tiverton.
Lewis, known as Jumbo to his team-mates, was playing for Barnstaple Development XV, the club's second team, when he had what is thought to have been a cardiac arrest.
Prop forward Lewis had just walked to a scrum and placed his hand on Barnstaple hooker Luke Squire's shoulder when his eyes rolled back in his head and he collapsed.
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Fortunately for Lewis 25-year-old Luke is an NHS physiotherapist and he sprang into action straight away.
Alan East, stand in team manager for the Athletic, described how Luke had acted quickly.
He said: "Luke bounced to the floor because he thought Lewis might have had a head or neck injury. But once he realised it wasn't he started giving him CPR."
Lewis' fellow prop Frank Faber took over from Luke to keep his unconscious team mate's head steady as three St John's Ambulance staff, who had been watching the game, rushed on to the pitch.
One immediately called for an ambulance and on hearing the nature of the call-out a controller at the South West Ambulance Trust's headquarters scrambled the Devon Air Ambulance.
The ambulance landed by Lewis on the pitch before taking him to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.
The second team match was abandoned while Tiverton's first team and their opponents Hayle, who were playing on an adjacent pitch, stopped while the Air Ambulance was on the scene.
After arriving at hospital Lewis was put into an induced coma to keep his condition stable and was gently woken from it on Monday morning.
He underwent brain and heart scans and was moved from the hospital's intensive care unit to its coronary care unit.
At the time of going to press Lewis was still in coronary care but doing well.
The incident echoed one from March, when Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch during an FA Cup tie with Tottenham Hotspur.
And, just as Bolton manager Owen Coyle did after Muamba collapsed, Alan said he had nothing but thanks for everyone who was at the match on Saturday.
He said: "Luke was brilliant, the St John staff were brilliant and so was the referee, Steve Avenell.
"Everyone there was brilliant. Tiverton Rugby Club as a whole were superb."