Oliver King, left, with his younger brother, Ben
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A dad whose young son died after a cardiac arrest during a swimming lesson says a defibrillator could have saved him.
Mark King, whose son Oliver had an undiagnosed heart condition, said watching Christian Eriksen’s collapse on the pitch at Denmark’s Euros opener on Saturday took him back to that day in 2011.
Mark said: “The things I felt that day were brought back to me in a wave.
“I was watching the game and I knew exactly what was happening.”
Former Spurs star Eriksen, 29, regained consciousness after medics used a defibrillator to get his heart going again.
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Mark King remembers his grief
(Image: Liverpool Echo)
Mark said: “Professional sportsmen have got these lifesaving facilities, but our kids and the rest of the public haven’t… there’s not enough defibrillators.”
Mark, 59, is backing the Mirror’s call for an urgent change in the law to ensure the kit is available in key locations across the country.
He said: “We are trying to get it legislated so defibs are as common as fire extinguishers.”
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Mark King says more needs to be done
(Image: Liverpool Echo)
It took an ambulance 24 minutes to reach Oliver at King David High School near his home in Childwall, Liverpool.
Mark said: “If there had been a defibrillator my Oliver might have come home that day, or might have stood a fighting chance.”
Mark launched the Oliver King Foundation, which has so far put 5,500 defibrillators across the country and trained more than 100,000 people to use them.
Eriksen has told fans he 'won't give up'
(Image: Pool via REUTERS)
It has saved 56 lives, the youngest patient aged four.
But he says more needs to be done, and is calling for the Automated External Defibrillators (Public Access) Bill to make them a legal requirement at schools, public buildings and sports facilities.
He urged the Government to stop dragging its feet after previous Bills failed to progress.
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His MP, Labour’s Maria Eagle, has sponsored the latest Bill and said: “They save lives, and that’s got to be worth making an investment in.”
The family of James Cook, who died in 2017 while playing football with friends, also backed the calls. James was 12 when he collapsed near his home in Bishop Auckland, Co Durham.
He was airlifted to hospital and pronounced dead there.
James Cook, 12, was another young lad who collapsed and died while playing football
(Image: Steve Coulthard)
Eriksen was saved after his collapse
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)
The exact cause of James’s death remains unknown.
His mother Louise, 51, said: “Defibrillators should be in every sports ground. And it shouldn’t always be down to clubs and fundraisers to pay for them.”
Dr Steven Cox of Cardiac Risk in the Young said: “Every week in the UK at least 12 apparently fit and healthy young people will collapse and die from previously undiagnosed heart conditions.”
Kjaer comforts wife of ill Eriksen
(Image: Stuart Franklin/POOL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
Just one in 10 people in the UK survive a cardiac arrest outside hospital. Fast access to a defibrillator can make the difference yet availability varies.
In 2019, London had 61 per 100,000 people while Birmingham had just two per 100,000.
The British Heart Foundation is building a UK-wide network called The Circuit partnering with ambulance services, the NHS and Microsoft.
Estelle Stephenson of the BHF said: “It’s crucial that we continue to make public-access defibrillators readily available in the places they are needed most.”
The new bill…
The Automated External Defibrillators (Public Access) Bill will if passed make it a legal requirement for the kit to be installed at designated buildings, schools and sports venues.
Vital all schools get this device
– Comment by Labour MP Maria Eagle
The shocking scenes from Copenhagen remind us defibrillators are indispensable equipment at sports centres, schools and community facilities – and that sudden cardiac arrest can be a killer.
I never met Oliver King, though I was his MP.
Danish players form a protective ring around stricken Eriksen
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
I do know Oliver’s dad Mark, whom I met after Oliver died at school, aged just 12 from sudden cardiac arrest.
A defibrillator might have saved him but there wasn’t one available and a popular young man with so much potential had his life cut tragically short.
Since then, Mark’s OK Foundation has helped provide defibrillators in every school in Liverpool.
It has also achieved so much around the country, raising money for defibrillators, training people in how to use them and raising awareness of sudden cardiac arrest. Their work has saved lives.
That is why I am a sponsor of the Automated External Defibrillators (Public Access) Bill.
It would require the installation of defibrillators in public buildings, sporting facilities, schools, higher education and other public places and the provision of training to ensure they could be used in an emergency.
Although the Bill fell at the end of the Parliamentary session, I am sure that supporters, like me, will look to reintroduce it as soon as possible.
Or perhaps the Government could do so, having seen just how much this equipment is needed and how it saved a life in Copenhagen last Saturday.