Hatters defender Lockyer reveals thinking he could be dying after suffering on-field cardiac arrest

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Town centre half discusses the incident at the Vitality Stadium

Hatters defender Tom Lockyer has revealed thinking he could be dying while suffering his on-field cardiac arrest at AFC Bournemouth in December.

The 29-year-old collapsed on the field during the early stages of the second half at the Vitality Stadium before Christmas, with paramedics and doctors quickly on the field to get his heart going again with a defibrillator and ultimately save his life. It was the second time Lockyer, who has since been fitted with an ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator), had collapsed, having also gone down in the play-off final against Coventry at Wembley in May after what was later diagnosed as an atrial fibrillation.

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However, he knew it was different this time, as speaking candidly about his memories of what happened to Sky Sports before Luton’s 2-1 Premier League defeat to Manchester United yesterday afternoon, the Welsh international said: “I was running up to the half-way line and I went really light headed and I remember thinking I’ll be okay in a second. Eventually I wasn't and I woke up and the paramedics and everyone was everywhere. It was well documented it happened back in May as well but I know instantly this time was different.

"Last time I woke up from almost a dream and this time I woke up from a nothingness and I could see straight away that the paramedics and the physios, the club doc and everything, there was a little bit more panic around. I was a bit disorientated, I couldn't speak, I couldn't move and I was just trying to work out what was happening and while that was happening I remember thinking, I could be dying here.

"It's quite a surreal thought to have thinking that and not being able to move and respond and you can see the panics that's going on. I could feel them putting the drip in my arm, it was all quite a hard mix of emotions and eventually I came round and I was able to speak and to respond and once I came round and I felt okay.

"It was a relief that I am alive, obviously I'm really fortunate it happened where it happened but for me I was just living it and almost feel that everyone watching it and especially my family have almost had it worse than I have.”

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Lockyer went on to reveal he had actually died for just under three minutes, as he poured praise on the medical staff who got to him as quickly as they did to administer the life-saving treatment, as he continued: “After what happened in May, I have a little recording device under the chest, two minutes 40 I was out for and I needed to have the defib to shock me back. A massive thankyou to the paramedics, club docs, everyone who was involved that day because without them I wouldn’t be standing here.

Luton's players react to Tom Lockyer's cardiac arrest at AFC Bournemouth in December - pic: Mike Hewitt/Getty ImagesLuton's players react to Tom Lockyer's cardiac arrest at AFC Bournemouth in December - pic: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Luton's players react to Tom Lockyer's cardiac arrest at AFC Bournemouth in December - pic: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

"Maybe it’s the advances we’ve had in the technology and the awareness to it all now, but I'm forever grateful to that. The hardest thing, you can do all the training in the world, but when I spoke to them, they said it was them knowing me as a person and it was real emotion involved with everything as well."

For anyone who was present on the south coast, it was something that will live with them forever, as Lockyer spoke about just how his family, who were both present and at home, were affected as well, saying: “My old man was there, and my girlfriend was seven months pregnant at the time, so instantly that's where my thoughts go. As soon as I got my bearings I was okay, I felt fine, I didn’t have any soreness, any more light-headedness, any pain, I was just fine.

"Obviously for them having to watch that, my mum was at home listening on the radio with my brother and it was after Bournemouth scored, she was in a little bit of a fit, went out and made a cup of tie, when I came back my brother had turned the radio off. She was like ‘what are you doing?’ And he had to say to her, ‘Tom's gone down off the ball again.’ So it’s things like this which is the bigger picture that a lot of people don’t see, and that’s probably the hardest thing to deal with is that side of it.”

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The defender has tried to put his finger on just why the incident happened as well, but has come up with nothing so far, adding: “I wish I could tell you, as since I’ve been looking back, could it have been this? Could it have been that? But it was just a normal day and that's probably the most worrying thing about it. I felt completely fine. I've been looking for answers, searching for answers, but as far as I was aware it was just another normal day at the office and it was all going well until what happened, happened.”