Bradford Bulls welcome screening programme as Purtell begins recovery (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford Bulls welcome screening programme as Adrian Purtell begins recovery
Bradford Bulls have welcomed plans to roll out a cardiac screening programme across all Super League clubs as centre Adrian Purtell continues his recovery from a heart attack.
The Bulls today confirmed that the 27-year-old Purtell suffered a heart attack within hours of playing in Sunday's derby against Leeds at Manchester's Etihad Stadium.
The Australian was rushed to Leeds General Infirmary after being taken ill on the team bus back to Yorkshire and underwent surgery to unblock an artery.
Purtell was said to be "feeling much better" today and, according to his Twitter site, may even be released from hospital tomorrow.
The health scare came as a shock to Bradford but a heart-testing procedure which will be introduced at clubs this summer may prevent a similar occurence by revealing any congenital heart defects.
A cardiac risk screening programme for young rugby league players attending national camps has been in operation for the past nine years but the Super League clubs last week agreed to bring in a similar scheme for all senior players.
Purtell's health scare has brought back memories of the tragic death of Wakefield players Leon Walker and former Bull Adam Watene, who passed away from heart-related problems within six months of each other in 2008-09, and made last week's decision even more relevant, according to the Bulls' football and media manager Stuart Duffy.
"It's fantastic, especially in light of what's happened to Adrian, although of course it's not a reaction to it," said Duffy.
"Had we had this before, we might well have known about Adrian's condition. It's going to be really beneficial and a real asset to the game."
Purtell complained of feeling unwell after Sunday's game, which was played in soaring temperatures, and received treatment from the club's medical staff on the journey home.
Bradford say they were unable to initially comment on Purtell's condition until receiving his permission due to patient confidentiality, although the player's mother Fran Purtell broke the news to an Australian newspaper just before catching a flight to England to be at her son's bedside.
Duffy said: "Adrian had an immediate primary angioplasty to remove the blockage in his artery but both the club and the player wish to point out that at no time did he suffer a cardiac arrest.
"His heart did not stop beating and he was conscious throughout the journey to hospital.
"Adrian is feeling much better today. The Bulls would like to thank the club's medical team, Dr Donald Young, physiotherapist Jamie Moseley and head of conditioning Geoff Evans for their treatment of Adrian and in particular the staff at both the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and the Leeds General Infirmary for their expert care of Adrian.
"The club would also like to thank the RFL for their support in this matter."
Purtell, who is in his first season in Super League after joining the Bulls from Penrith Panthers, issued a statement through the club thanking everyone for their best wishes.
"I have read all the messages and would like to thank everyone for their concern," he said.
"The response from the rugby league community has been overwhelming and I appreciate everyone's kind thoughts."
Purtell, who started his professional career at Canberra in 2006, missed a large chunk of the following season due to deep vein thrombosis after a blood clot was found in his lungs and his mother said he had been feeling unwell for some time.
He missed four games earlier this season with a torn pectoral muscle and sat out two more matches with a hamstring injury before returning to make his tenth appearance for the club in the 37-22 defeat by the Rhinos.
"He complained of a pain in his chest after the Leeds game on Good Friday but he had just come back from a torn pec," added Duffy. "Since then he hadn't discussed it with the medical staff."
Many clubs have screened their junior players since 2003, when the RFL encouraged them to participate in the CRY scheme – Cardiac Risk in the Young.
Sunday’s Magic Weekend clash was played in baking conditions but all clubs are given opportunities to take on extra water during a game in hot conditions.
If the Match Commissioner is approached by both club doctors before a game and they request water breaks because of the excessive temperatures, the MC relays that information to the referee.
If the referee feels there has been too few stoppages in play, he is able to stop play midway through a half to enable players to take on more fluids.
This last option was not needed during the Leeds-Bradford game because there were ample stoppages (after tries etc) which gave both clubs the chance to rehydrate their players.