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Bradford Bulls medics may have saved Adrian Purtell's life
Adrian Purtell’s expert and swift treatment at the hands of the Bulls’ club doctor and medical staff could have saved his life.
It was confirmed yesterday that the Australian centre, 27, had suffered a heart attack in the aftermath of Sunday’s Magic Weekend encounter against Leeds at the Etihad Stadium.
Purtell, who played the full 80 minutes of the energy-sapping 37-22 defeat in searing heat, initially complained of feeling unwell shortly after the game and began to suffer chest pains.
As his condition worsened during the journey back to Bradford, the club’s medical staff – Dr Donald Young, physio Jamie Moseley and head of conditioning Geoff Evans – gave Purtell oxygen and put him on a drip before diverting the team coach to accident and emergency at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
The close-season signing from Penrith was transferred to the Coronary Care Unit at Leeds General Infirmary later that evening, where he underwent an immediate primary angioplasty to remove a blockage in his artery.
As he begins a lengthy recovery process, the importance of the initial treatment he received by Dr Donald Young can be revealed. Dr Young, a full-time GP at the Rooley Lane Medical Centre, oversees the Bulls’ medical care at every home and away game.
Any heart problem puts your life at risk and I think everything we did – the supportive measures that we undertook in the right order and at the right time before getting him to A and E – effectively saved his life and have given him the best chance of a good recoveryDr Donald Young
He told the T&A: “After the game, Adrian initially felt very sick but with that came this chest pain and his condition worsened on the coach.
“I began treating him and we put him on a drip for fluid support and had him on oxygen but by the time we had crossed the Pennines he had deteriorated too far.
“I thought ‘I can’t take this risk anymore, he needs hospital supervision’, so we diverted to A and E at Huddersfield.
“Any heart problem puts your life at risk and I think everything we did – the supportive measures that we undertook in the right order and at the right time before getting him to A and E – effectively saved his life and have given him the best chance of a good recovery.”
Dr Young was with Purtell every step of the way as he explained: “The first thing they did when we got to Huddersfield was to put the ECG (Electrocardiogram) on to trace Adrian’s heart.
“The paramedics were there along with one of the sisters from A and E along with myself and Jamie Moseley.
“We just looked at the monitor in shock because it clearly showed that Adrian was having a heart attack.
“The pain that he was having started affecting his pulse and his breathing, and were signs that his heart wasn’t getting enough oxygen.
“Putting him on oxygen on the coach definitely helped Adrian and from Huddersfield I accompanied him in an ambulance to Leeds, which is where he received the definitive treatment he needed. Until he got to Leeds he was still effectively unstable.
“When we got there they put him straight into where they do the angioplasty. That procedure was just short of two hours.
“It’s technically called an invasive procedure and, while it’s not open-heart surgery, it involves some very skilful work to remove the clot and if there is any part of the artery that needs to be widened they can do that from the inside.”
Purtell last night tweeted that he could be released from the LGI today but it is not clear when he might be expected to return to full fitness or play again.
He has been undergoing tests to ascertain the root cause of the heart attack but Dr Young believes it could be attributed to a number of factors.
Purtell, who has been joined in Leeds by his parents, was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis in the middle of 2007.
Purtell said yesterday: “I have read all the messages and would like to thank everyone for their concern. The response from the rugby league community has been overwhelming and I appreciate everyone’s kind thoughts.”