Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Former NHLer Brett MacLean out of Hockey at Age 23, but Happy to Be Alive

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Former NHLer Brett MacLean out of Hockey at Age 23, but Happy to Be Alive

Article excerpt

Hockey career over, MacLean happy to be alive

--

TORONTO - Brett MacLean was in the prime of his life.

Just 23 years old and coming off a 25-goal season in the American Hockey League, MacLean was working towards a full-time spot with the Phoenix Coyotes this summer when he joined some friends in Owen Sound, Ont., for a pick-up game.

Little did he know, it would be the last time he pulled on skates as a professional.

"I remember going to the arena and going on the ice and that's it," MacLean said during a recent interview. "I guess 40 minutes in I made a pass and just collapsed."

He was experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. In top physical shape, and with no history of heart disease, MacLean's life hung in the balance. The survival rate in Canada for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests is just five per cent.

Fortunately for MacLean, there were people around who started acting quickly. Two fellow players performed CPR until a local firefighter could retrieve the arena's automatic external defibrillator -- better known as an AED -- and shock him back to life.

Paramedics soon arrived and he was eventually airlifted to a hospital in London.

"I was lucky," said MacLean. "It just kind of shows that it can happen to anyone."

The miracle that saved his life was accompanied by news that he'd have to end his hockey career. With the cause of MacLean's cardiac arrest unknown, doctors inserted an implantable cardiac defibrillator, which will monitor his heart for abnormalities and prevent him from participating in contact sports.

However, MacLean had vowed to turn his experience into something positive before he was even discharged from hospital.

He quickly made contact with the Heart and Stroke Foundation through his Twitter account and took part in the launch of the charity's new awareness campaign last week in downtown Toronto. Just three months on from a life-altering event, he's willing to speak openly about what he went through and help spread the word on behalf of the foundation. …

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