There’s more to life than rugby, insists Bradford Bulls heart-attack victim Purtell (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Adrian Purtell admits he’s happy just to be alive as he recalls ‘scary’ heart attack playing for Bradford Bulls
Adrian Purtell was speaking about the Bulls’ on-field fortunes this week when he paused for a moment of reflection.
“There’s a lot more to life than rugby,” he said.
“I’m living; I’ve got to be grateful for that.
“I’ve still hopefully got a lot of years left to live and, as much as I’d like to come back and play, my health is the most important thing.”
Purtell has not been on the pitch since suffering a heart attack in the aftermath of the Magic Weekend defeat to Leeds at the Etihad Stadium in May.
The Aussie centre, who played the full 80 minutes of the energy-sapping 37-22 defeat in baking conditions, 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 Bulls’ medical staff gave Purtell oxygen and put him on a drip before diverting the team coach to accident and emergency at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
He was then 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.
“I remember everything about the day,” recalled 27-year-old Purtell, who had impressed since joining the Bulls on a three-year deal from Penrith Panthers.
“Even though it was very hot, I just felt a bit tired afterwards. Ten minutes after I’d had a shower, I started getting some chest pains but nobody could have guessed what was happening inside my body.
“The doc gave me some medication and then administered oxygen before putting me on a drip. But I just wasn’t getting any better so I was probably starting to get a bit scared.
“I think then the doctor made the right call and said ‘I think we’ve got to take you to the hospital’. We made it to Huddersfield in time and then got an ambulance to the LGI.
“I’ve been a bit selfish thinking ‘why me?’ – but it’s happened to other people such as Fabrice Muamba and I’m very grateful that I got through it.”
Whether Purtell will play again remains to be seen but much will depend on the results of tests he underwent at the hands of a sports cardiologist at St George’s Hospital in London yesterday.
He said: “Health-wise I feel pretty good. I go in to Tong and do my own thing – a bit of running on the treadmill and light weights – which has been good because I don’t think I could have just stayed at home and twiddled my thumbs.
“The staff have been awesome and Mick (Potter) has been very open, even letting me help out a little with the coaching. It’s taken my mind off things and kept me active.
“It’s important not to say ‘I’ve had a heart attack and now I’m going to sit at home and wrap myself in cotton wool’.”
Purtell said the support of his team-mates had helped him to cope with the tumultuous events of May 27.
He said: “You do feel very isolated, and it was a massive scare, but these guys have made it much easier for me. There has always been someone around if I wanted to meet up for a coffee.
“Most of the time it’s been them messaging me to go and do something. Knowing that you’ve got your good mates there makes it that little bit easier.
“All the boys have been going through a tough time of their own, with the uncertainty surrounding the club and their futures.
“The way they’ve stuck together is a credit to them and in some ways I feel bad that I can’t be on the field to help them. Sometimes you can get jealous about not being able to do that, so you need to keep a sense of perspective.
“I was excited about moving over here and disappointed that I’m not fulfilling that at the moment. Like I said though, I’ve got to be grateful because I’m very lucky – the doctors and our club medical staff were awesome.”
Purtell will now wait on his test results and plot his next move, which could include getting a job in the UK or Australia – or even going to university to study.
He said: “I’m trying to prepare myself for the worst but I don’t think I’d take it too well if I can’t play again. I’ll just have to see if any job opportunities pop up either here or at home.
“I guess that’s the good thing. It’s a big world out there and I’m still young enough to find something else. I’ll wait and see.”