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Posted by By George Mathias & Ellie Kemp February 3, 2024 on Feb 12th 2024

'One minute I was kicking a football... the next I was waking up in hospital'

'One minute I was kicking a football... the next I was waking up in hospital'
Jack Hurley is calling on the government to ditch 'heart restart tax' on defibrillators after one installed by his football club weeks earlier saved his life

A student footballer who collapsed on the pitch has launched a petition calling for the government to scrap tax on defibrillators. Jack Hurley, then 19, was warming up when he fell to the floor 'like a sack of spuds' while having a cardiac arrest.

An opposition player and his teammates noticed he was turning blue and administered CPR, shocking his chest with a pitch-side defibrillator installed just eight weeks earlier. The swift action - before paramedics arrived - shocked his heart back into a normal rhythm and saved his life.

Jack has launched a campaign calling on the government to scrap the tax clubs have to pay on defibrillators which adds between £200 and £500 to the cost. At the time of writing, 74,787 people have backed his petition on Change.org, including several MPs, but the government is yet to officially respond.

It comes as earlier this week (Monday January 29) Tom Lockyer returned to Luton's training ground for the first time since he had a cardiac arrest during the Hatters' clash with Bournemouth on December 16.

Jack from Claybrooke Magna, Leicestershire, said: "The incident is still something I haven’t fully got to grips with. One minute I was fine and the next I was waking up in hospital but in that time everyone else has been left traumatised.

“I can’t really imagine how they must have felt. We need more defibrillators around - having VAT could be the difference between life and death."

Jack was warming up to play football at North Kilworth FC on June 17 last year. He came out from the clubhouse after getting changed into his kit, kicked the football and then remembers 'nothing until Tuesday the following week.'

Luckily an opposition player standing nearby had been first aid trained and joined teammates in using a defibrillator kept 50 yards away at the club house. Jack was given a shock from the defibrillator within six minutes of collapsing, which he’s since learned is “absolutely vital.”

Paramedics arrived 11 minutes after Jack’s collapse, and dad Colin turned up to find them huddled around his son. Colin, 69, a healthcare consultant, said: “A player on the other team thought he was having seizure but then they all noticed him going blue and started doing CPR.

“Someone ran off to fetch a defibrillator while somebody rang 999. It was one shock of defibrillator which brought his heart back into rhythm.

“I just thought 'what on earth is going on?'. I was told paramedics were seeing to him - I just assume he had broken a leg. But then I saw him there with the defibrillator still attached. It’s not a sight any parent should have to see."

Within 15 minutes, an air ambulance arrived and whisked Jack off to Coventry hospital. Mum Tracey, 56, who works in admin, said: “Doctors were working on him for about an hour, then we were allowed to see him at around 7pm."

Jack, who is studying sports science at Loughborough University, said: “Survival rates for out of hospital cardiac arrests are shockingly low – around 8%. But defibrillators can increase survival rates to as high as 70 per cent if treatment is received within the first few minutes.”

Jack then had a subcutaneous defibrillator fitted - a device which automatically shocks his heart if it stops, also used by footballer Christian Eriksen. He was discharged after a week in hospital, and back playing football six weeks later.

Jack is heading a campaign to abolish VAT on defibrillators - dubbed the heart restart tax, so more will be installed. Currently, local authorities, the NHS, and specific first aid charities are exempt from VAT on defibrillators.

The tax only hits small businesses and charities, community groups, grassroots sports clubs and private owners.