The football news cycle moves at a Dirk Kuyt-like pace, and as such the Fabrice Muamba story with its happy-but-still-largely-uncertain ending, is set to disappear from it for the next long while. We know the doctors involved in saving his life (pictured here), we know in the early going that his neurological function appears on the surface to be normal, and beyond that, we don’t know much of anything except that Muamba’s life has been forever and irreversibly altered.
Some newspapers, including the Daily Mail, seem to want to end this story quickly and hopefully with the ultimate miracle: the continuation of Muamba’s playing career. Not content with the long-term uncertainty offered by medical science, they jumped on the hopeful words of Bolton manager Owen Coyle to speculate that Muamba might play elite football again:
Asked if the doctors believe he could make a full recovery, Coyle said: ‘They say that is something that has happened before. Every case is individual and on its own merits.
‘The two things that Fabrice have that can help him in this battle are that he is such a fit young man and the life he’s had. He’s had to fight every step of the way in his young journey, so those two things I am sure will stand him in good stead. Football pales into insignificance at this moment, as we know, but he’s an outstanding young individual and we pray that he gets back to that level again.’
Perhaps it’s time we took a few deep breaths here and look at the circumstances of what has transpired since that awful moment on Saturday. Muamba’s heart did not beat on its own for a full 78 minutes. The defibrillator was employed unsuccessfully a total of 15 times. These are extraordinary figures. This entry from the Wikipedia page should underline the miraculous circumstances of Muamba’s recovery:
A study of survival rates from out of hospital cardiac arrest found that 14.6% of those who had received resuscitation by ambulance staff survived as far as admission to hospital. Of these, 59% died during admission, half of these within the first 24 hours, while 46% survived until discharge from hospital. This gives us an overall survival following cardiac arrest of 6.8%. Of these 89% had normal brain function or mild neurological disability, 8.5% had moderate impairment, and 2% suffered major neurological disability.
There is simply no need to force a media miracle. Muamba asking after the well-being of his son, or whether Bolton won their FA Cup tie, is miracle enough. The hard work and dedication of the staff at the London Chest Hospital who help save lives every day is miracle enough. The outpouring of concern from across the football spectrum was miracle enough.
The lived reality of medical recovery, adjustment to new life circumstances, contemplation of the uncertainty of life, don’t really mesh well with the Sky Sports ticker culture, I know. But let’s not force the mega-super-happy ending. Muamba’s life is enough.