The family of former NRL star Nathan Stapleton have reached out to thank the off-duty nurse who saved his life.
The 32-year former Cronulla Sharks and Sydney Roosters back is recovering in Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital after becoming a quadriplegic and suffering a heart attack in a bush footy tackle gone wrong.
Stapleton was playing his first game for the Boorowa Goldies rugby union club in West Wyalong when the incident occurred. Fortunately for Stapleton, former Brumbies player and local Louise McCabe was on the scene.
Louise McCabe was a representative rugby union player for the Brumbies in Canberra. She could tell Stapleton had suffered a spinal injury ‘straight away’
‘Usually the opposition have their own strappers and I don’t usually get involved but, for whatever reason, I went out to Nathan,’ she told the Daily Telegraph.
‘I noticed it was a spinal injury straight away, just the way he was presenting in the position he was laying.
‘I introduced myself and he looked like he was gasping for breath. I asked if he was right and I could see he wasn’t but I was seeing what I could get out of him.
‘He was blue in the face, so I said we need to get him in a better position. We used spinal precautions and log-rolled him into a better position and I thought that might help with his breathing.
‘It was evident his breathing was not regular so, from our training of basic life support, if the patient is not breathing regularly, commence CPR.’
Stapleton (pictured with his wife Katie and son Harry) is recovering in hospital. He has a fighting chance thanks McCabe’s efforts
While Stapleton is currently paralysed from the shoulders down and has a huge period of rehab and recovery ahead of him, the outcome could have been much worse.
McCabe was amazed Stapleton pulled through, considering the chances of surviving a cardiac arrest away from a hospital are around 10 per cent – with that number plunging once a spinal injury is factored in.
‘I definitely do feel like I saved his life, I acknowledge that I saved his life and medical professionals have given me credit.
‘Katie [Stapleton’s wife] rang me and thanked me for what I did and she said the doctors had said if we didn’t start early CPR, Nathan wouldn’t be here today.
‘I’m very overwhelmed and I’ve had Nathan’s family reach out to me again to thank me.’
An appeal has been put together on crowdfunding website GoFundMe for the Stapleton family with over $125,000 raised.
McCabe is a reluctant hero, but there is no doubt her actions save Stapleton’s life
The Nathan Stapleton’s Spinal Injury Recovery appeal is aiming to raise $150,000 to assist with Stapleton’s rehab and recovery, along with his family’s needs during this difficult time.
‘Any funds raised will support Nathan’s recovery and his young family. This may include medical expenses, rehabilitation, modifications to home/vehicles, accommodation/travel for Kate and the children, and any other support required for Nathan’s ongoing recovery,’ the page reads.
‘Anyone who knows Nathan can attest to his determination and incredible work ethic. He has demonstrated this through his success playing in the NRL with both the Cronulla Sharks and the Sydney Roosters. There is no doubt that Nathan will bring that same determination and commitment to his rehab and recovery. There is no limit to what Nathan can achieve.’
Stapleton played for the Cronulla Sharks, Sydney Roosters and London Broncos
Along with numerous, generous donations there have been a raft of messages of support for the Stapleton family.
‘Wish you a speedy recovery. You were a great guy to have come across. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family in these times. God speed,’ Nicholas Panagakos said.
‘Thinking of Nate and family. I remember Nate when you were a little tike running around Torrington. You are an amazing man Nate you have so many people behind you because you deserve it. Love and best wishes always,’ Marion Downing added.
‘Cause this poor lovely family needs all the love , kindness and support they can get . Australians are known for getting behind each other in times like this , it’s what we do,’ Kara Seatter
You can contribute to Nathan Stapleton’s Spinal Injury Recovery GoFundMe page here.