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Editorials, Sports

The Defibrillator: How Technology Has Rescued Careers and Lives

The first sportsman to use a defibrillator on the field is Fabrice Muamba, a former professional footballer who played for Bolton Wanderers.

  • Toyosi Afolayan
  • 15th March 2024

The defibrillator has emerged as a game-changer in the high-stakes world of professional football, where every moment counts and every heartbeat matters. The device is designed to detect and correct irregular heart rhythms, and has not only saved careers but also saved lives, transforming the landscape of the sport in profound ways.


The recent spotlight on footballers like Daley Blind, Christian Eriksen, and Tom Lockyer underscores defibrillators’ pivotal role in ensuring the safety and well-being of athletes on the field. Blind’s courageous return to the pitch despite experiencing cardiac incidents is a testament to the life-saving capabilities of these devices.

With an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) embedded in his chest, Blind has defied the odds and went on to play the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup.


Let’s go back to history lane. The first sportsman to use a defibrillator on the field is often credited to Fabrice Muamba, a former professional footballer who played for Bolton Wanderers in the English Premier League. 


In March 2012, Muamba suffered a sudden cardiac arrest during a match against Tottenham Hotspur. Medical personnel quickly responded and used a defibrillator to resuscitate Muamba, ultimately saving his life.

This high-profile incident brought attention to the importance of having defibrillators readily available at sporting events and raised awareness about cardiac health in athletes. Muamba’s survival and subsequent advocacy for defibrillator accessibility have had a lasting impact on sports safety protocols worldwide.



Fast forward to 2021 the harrowing ordeal faced by Christian Eriksen during Euro 2020 (the tournament was played a year later due to being postponed as a result of Covid-19)  sent shockwaves through the football world. Yet, his remarkable recovery and subsequent return to professional football, facilitated by the presence of an ICD, stand as a beacon of hope and resilience. Eriksen’s story is a powerful reminder of the life-saving potential of defibrillators, offering a glimmer of hope.


Tom Lockyer’s experience further highlights the transformative impact of defibrillators in football. Following a terrifying collapse on the pitch, Lockyer’s life was saved by the timely intervention of an ICD.

Now, armed with this life-saving device, Lockyer is not only back on the field but also raising awareness about the importance of cardiac health in sports.


But the significance of defibrillators extends beyond individual players—it encompasses the entire football community. From stringent medical assessments to comprehensive protocols for emergency response, the presence of defibrillators has revolutionized player safety in football, ensuring that every athlete can compete with confidence and peace of mind.

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