When Sam Chan collpased lifeless to the floor in the middle of an Adelaide high school indoor soccer match, the odds of his survival were terrifyingly small.
The 17-year-old Henley High School international student had no idea he had been living with a heart condition, because there had been no warning signs or symptoms. Now he was unconscious, not breathing and in cardiac arrest.
Of the 15,000 people in Australia who have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest every year, only 5 per cent, or 750 people, survive.
From his PE teacher to the Adelaide and Sydney cardiologists who would assess whether he needed a heart transplant, every split-second response in the coming days would be a crossroads that decided if he was among those 750 people.
According to the Advertiser, other students quickly alerted Henley High PE teacher Filipe Nogueria to Sam’s predicament and he rushed to the aid of the young goalkeeper, who was facedown on the floor during a regular PE lesson.
After checking his consciousness and vital signs, Mr Nogueria feared the worst, quickly recognising that Sam’s life hung in the balance. As shocked students watched on, he began basic life support and used a defibrillator machine on Sam’s chest while they waited for paramedics to arrive.
‘We put him in the support position on his side,’ says Mr Nogueria.
‘We’d been trained to do two breaths and then 30 compressions, which I started doing while the triple-0 assistant was coaching me over the phone.’
The response from SA Ambulance Service was equally swift and professional, as was a waiting team of medical experts at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
ICU consultant Ben Reddi and his colleagues reached another crossroads — and made the unorthodox, split-second decision to use a medical device usually restricted to surgery.
Cardiologists later praised the decision to use the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine to pump and oxygenate Sam’s blood, allowing his heart and lungs to rest.
Sam’s team of lifesavers are pictured clockwise from top left. Cardiologist Dr Matt Worthley, ICU consultant Dr Ben Reddi, paramedic Bryan Ward, ED consultant Dr Truc Huynh, paramedic Alison Barry, nurse Svatka Micik, Sam Chan, and Henley High School teacher Filipe Nogueira.