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Ill rugby player out of intensive car

Rugby player Hoani MacDonald has made progress in his recovery from an on-pitch heart attack, moving out of intensive care.


Hoani MacDonald

RUGBY player Hoani MacDonald has made progress  in his recovery from an on-pitch heart attack, moving out of intensive care.

The Southland rugby player suffered cardiac arrest during his side’s match against Counties-Manukau during the weekend, and is in Middlemore Hospital.

It happened 15 minutes into the match, when the 34-year-old dropped to his knee while running across the field.

He was first attended to by Southland physio Karl McDonald, who looked to the sideline and indicated MacDonald was groggy and could be concussed.

MacDonald tried to get back to his feet but fell back down and lost consciousness, making it apparent he was very unwell.

He was stretchered from the field while his condition continued to get worse, with it understood he had a seizure and again lost consciousness.

He went into cardiac arrest and ambulance officers performed CPR for almost 10 minutes behind a tarpaulin put up for privacy.

They used a defibrillator to revive MacDonald when CPR and a shot of adrenaline failed to bring back his pulse.

His heart reportedly stopped twice.

The match continued while all this was going on, and after 15 to 20 minutes he was stabilised and taken to hospital, where he was put into an induced coma.

A statement released by the NZRU and Rugby Southland said he had started to come out of  the coma.

Stags’ management were told of the seriousness of MacDonald’s condition just before halftime, but coach David Henderson waited until after the match to tell the players what was happening.

“I was pretty cut up at halftime and it was hard to keep myself together, because something had gone seriously wrong,” Henderson said.

“I had to keep focused, but it was tough.”

Rugby Southland chief executive Brian Hopley said they had offered help to the players, who were understandably struggling with what had happened.

“They were met off the plane today and given a debrief. Leicester [Rutledge] was involved in that. Having someone of his mana is very good to meet with the players.”

It was thought the match was to be MacDonald’s last before retirement and the start of a coaching career.

He first played for Southland in 2000, as well as the Melbourne Rebels and Highlanders at Super Rugby level.

He also played for the New Zealand Maori team.