Muamba’s life is miracle enough

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.

Comments (18)

  1. This question is totally off topic but why do many people in soccer media dislike henry winter. I find it astonishing that both north american and european journos despise him, yet he has almost 300 000 followers on twitter. Is there any particular reason or is it just envy?
    Please respond .

    • Pat analysis. Populist sentiment. Easy cliches. Drops himself into columns to remind his reading audience how important he is to have “access.” Comes to impossibly easy conclusions. Has a tony job at a big paper on an island where immensely more talented writers get paid a pittance or nothing at all. That sort of thing…

      • thanks for the respond. If what you write is true, its really sad that one has to write what people what to hear and not one’s opinion in order to reach the top of the soccer jour no hierarchy.

        • Andi Thomas. Look him up. How someone like that doesn’t have a steady newspaper gig blows my mind…

  2. Rich, you forgot the tawdry ribbons of pseudo prose jism that he splooges across every article without fail.

  3. It is definitely envy. You can just see it in Richard Whittall’s poor excuse. He would love to be in a job like that and definitely wouldnt be complaining if he was. Instead he has to write about Toronto FC all day, feel sorry 4 the guy.

  4. There’s probably a dozen reasons he’ll never play again, I’m shocked to even hear it in consideration to be honest.

  5. I thought the first thing they taught you at university was not linking Wikipedia. In fact, using Wikipedia as a source is just plain wrong, since they are just based on external sources. Wikipedia is good to learn and find information in quick and easy way, but if you want people to take you seriously, for heaven’s sake, you can’t use it as much as you do (well, I’ve only read two articles from you and both had Wikipedia on it).

    Do you imagine newspapers talking “according to Wikipedia”? Of course, I don’t know how amateur this blog and its editor are.

    • Generally I hope people take me seriously based on the soundness of my arguments. But pointing out the use of Wikipedia is far easier than actually responding to any of the points I make, so I understand.

    • sourcing to wikipedia is not great but there is no difference in sourcing to there, than if he had followed the source links on wikipedia and sourced them, it actually makes it a much better experience for us all, he can do less work, I can see all the information I need in one place, and you have something to complain about.

  6. Ah Wikipedia. You know your using the finest and most reputable sources when your using Wikipedia.

    • Yup, let’s dismiss an open-source, heavily modded and independently verified encyclopedia based on what a university prof with a dial-up connection told you in Polisci. Then, you can score a “point” without having to say anything of substance whatsoever. Under a pseudonym!

  7. it seems ridiculous for him to play again, but there are professional athletes with similar conditions who play, for example gustavson in toronto, or pavelec who collapsed on the ice, we’ll see what comes of this but I don’t see him playing again.

  8. Love how few people can muster up an opinion on Richard’s arguments so they complain about something that doesn’t even matter. Anyways, due the the severity of the cardiac arrest ( going into a coma and whatnot ) I don’t think he will be playing again, but like a few people said above me, you never really know.

  9. Wow, Whittall, people really seem to hate you. You must either be doing your job right or really really wrong.

  10. i think Muamba will play again. He’s young.

    I thought you were going to write about his upbringing in Zaire. His father left the country to seek political asylum in the UK. It’s amazing what athletes overcome in most popular team sports (in terms of impoverished upbringings, etc…) to get to the big time; hockey excluded, of course.

  11. Yeah, thought you were gonna talk about his upbringing as well.
    In any case. yes, his life is definitely a miracle. I really can’t believe why people are questioning the source. I doubt any of you will actually go to the real sources and actually look up the stats if he actually gave them to you.

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