Bedford man’s grateful thanks to those who ‘brought him back from the dead’ on football pitch

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A 30-year-old man who ‘died’ for 20 minutes after a cardiac arrest on the football pitch is saying a heartfelt thank you to the people who brought him back to life.

Accountant Phillip Mirto collapsed five minutes into a match with his friends at Bedford’s Bunyan Centre.

Two female teacher playing netball nearby rushed to give him CPR until an air ambulance crew arrived to take over.

“They were all amazing, as were the staff at the Critical Care Unit at Bedford Hospital,” said Phillip’s mum Fern.

“But the fact remained that he had stopped breathing for 20 minutes and nobody knew what the outcome would be.”

Doctors put Phillip into a coma to stabilise him, but warned Fern and her husband Dom that there could be serious brain damage when he came round.

“The next few days were awful beyond words,” said Fern. “Phillip developed pneumonia because his lungs filled with water, and doctors told us it was touch and go whether he would survive.”

“We prayed and all his friends prayed. Then a miracle happened – his body started to fight back.”

Doctors brought Phillip round from the coma and within seconds he made a stab at a joke – reassuring his parents that his brain was undamaged.

Tests showed the cardiac arrest had been caused by a 90 per cent blockage in a left artery, known as the ‘widow’s artery’ because of the grim survival rates in such cases.

Today, almost exactly a year on, Phillip is fit, healthy and playing football again. He has stopped his smoking habit, which doctors say contributed to the blockage.

The Mirto family, who live in Kimbolton Road, are organising a six-a-side football charity fun day from 10.30am on Saturday May 27 at Kempston Rovers FC to raise funds for East Anglian Air Ambulance and the critical care unit.

“We owe them such a massive thank you,” said Fern.