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Premier League doctor’s son saved by defibrillator as he backs Mirror campaign

A Premier League doctor has told how the life of his son was saved by a defibrillator.

Zafar Iqbal, 47, has worked for top clubs including Tottenham, Liverpool and now Crystal Palace.

The dad of three was in Italy for a Europa League game when he received news his three-year-old son had suffered a cardiac arrest.

The lad survived and has a defibrillator implant to protect him.

Zafar has supported the work of Mark King, whose 12-year-old son Oliver died during a school swimming lesson.

And he backs the Mirror campaign for defibrillators to be made a legal requirement in public places.

He said: “If we hadn’t had a defibrillator in our home my son wouldn’t be here.

Dr Iqbal’s son collapsed in December 2012

“The majority of five-a-side and Sunday league teams don’t have a defibrillator. They should be made mandatory so they are available everywhere people play sports, in schools and in all public places.”

Zafar, who became a doctor after his sister had brain cancer, landed a job in 2007 with Tottenham.

His son collapsed at his North London home in December 2012.

Dr Zafar Iqbal treats footballer Luis Suarez
Dr Iqbal with Luis Suarez

The toddler had already been diagnosed with the heart condition Long QT.

Zafar said: “By that point we had a ­defibrillator at home and my wife managed to restart his heart.

“He was unconscious and by the time I boarded the flight in Italy he had still not woken up. Those were the worst three hours of my life.”

In 2005 Zafar detected the heart problem that forced Leyton Orient player Andy Scott to retire.

Zafar, head of sports medicine at Crystal Palace, said: “Andy had complained of shortness of breath at half-time and I noticed a murmur.

“He was lucky he had the warning before a cardiac arrest. Ever since I’ve insisted on cardiac screening for everyone I’ve done medicals on.”

Zafar hopes Danish player Christian Eriksen’s Euros collapse will prove to be the catalyst for change.

He said: “Now we have to get everyone behind this campaign.”


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