Tobi Alabi is an ex professional footballer who tragically suffered a cardiac arrest during a match on the 15th October 2013 aged just 19.
In our first edition of our "7 Questions" series, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to chat with the former footballer, learn more about the Heart4More Foundation and how he plans to help raise awareness to reduce the fatalities of cardiac arrest.
After being rushed to hospital, the former Millwall FC was revived with a life-saving defibrillator; further tests revealed that his heart had stopped beating for 10 seconds. Following a second collapse in April 2014, it was discovered that Tobi had Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) and underwent an operation to implant a permanent pacemaker.
Whilst Tobi is one of the lucky ones to survive a cardiac arrest, he was forced to stop playing the game he loved, however through this, he has been able to focus wholly on the Heart4More Foundation where he aims to change the world for the better, in his own special way.
Below, we share the questions defibshop.co.uk posed to Tobi, and his answers on his future plans and feelings towards SCA awareness.
- Before your collapse, were you aware of the risk of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)?
Tobi: “I was hardly aware of the risks at all, aside from the occasional news stories and the familiarity there was from incidents involving high profile players on the pitch, I knew nothing of what I know now.”
- How was your life changed since?
Tobi: “My life has changed massively and in so many different ways. I feel it has impacted my career positively which is apparent in my recent outreach projects, I’ve just gotten back from South Africa where I was able to help out at their Cardiac Arrest Clinic. It’s given me a great opportunity to help prevent people from going through what I went through.”
- Do you think that awareness has increased about cardiac arrest and the risk of heart conditions since?
Tobi: “Yes, I think awareness of cardiac arrest and heart conditions are definitely on the rise. Not only from big companies like BHF and CRY but also smaller organisations and individuals. We all have the same goal, to educate which is why I think it’s so important that the smaller organisations and individuals have the opportunity to find a way to push their campaigns to help raise awareness.”
4 & 5. What changes would you like to see in sport over the next few years in regards to defibrillators and testing?
Tobi: “For me, the testing aspect is definitely number one. We’re definitely taking steps in the right direction. We recently signed a deal with the premier league to coincide with our awareness programmes where players will receive clinical exams. The only issue with this is, currently they’re going to be providing “resting clinical exams”, which for me is pointless as you aren’t taking a rest when you’re playing! So we’ve opened the right door however there are still improvements which need to be made and the clinical exams need to be better for players.”
6. Hot topic at the moment: do you think CPR and awareness of AEDs should be incorporated into the National Curriculum?
Tobi: “I’m a huge supporter of accessible AEDs and increasing CPR education. I think it’s so important we get defibs into schools and start educating young people at their point of education to understand heart conditions and learn how to perform CPR. It’s such a small cost with a massive pay out, I learned recently than in many American states, you cannot graduate from school if you aren’t first aid trained which is definitely something we need to introduce here.”
- And finally, what are the aims and goals for you and the Heart4More foundation?
Tobi: “My goals for Heart4More are to firstly solidify the programme, getting it right to make sure we’re impacting the clubs and schools and educating people properly. In the long term I also want to develop our programme with other organisations similar to ours. By branching out with others we can help to really make a difference and I think together we can help to reduce the current statistics and the 12 deaths of young people each week massively.”
We want to personally thank Tobi for taking the time to chat with us. His ethos ties with our aims of raising awareness of cardiac arrest and hope to inspire others to make a life-saving change by highlighting the importance of heart screens and the availability of defibrillators in public areas.
To learn more about Tobi, his story and the Heart4More Foundation, head to http://www.heart4more.org.uk/ where you can help raise awareness of sudden cardiac arrest and Tobi’s story.