Hoani Macdonald out of ICU

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 14:14 22/10/2012
Hoani MacDonald
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Hoani MacDonald is treated on the field during the ITM Cup Championship Semifinal match.
Hoani McDonald
CARDIAC ARREST: Hoani MacDonald in action for the Highlanders.

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Stags lock Hoani Macdonald has moved from the ICU at Middlemore Hospital in Auckland to a coronary care ward in what is another positive step in his recovery.

Rugby Southland chief executive Brian Hopley released the good news today saying: "We are delighted to report that Hoani Macdonald has continued to improve overnight, and today will be moved from the ICU at Middlemore Hospital to a coronary care ward.

"Hoani has sent his thanks to everyone who has shown support for him and his family over the past two days, but they also ask for continued privacy."

Macdonald has been in a fight for his life after suffering a cardiac arrest on Saturday.

Fifteen minutes into the provincial semi-final game against Counties Manukau in Pukekohe, the 34-year-old dropped to his knee when running across the field after a lineout.

When Stags physio Karl McDonald got to him, he looked to the sideline and tapped on his own head to indicate the player was groggy and could be concussed.

But when MacDonald tried to get to his feet and fell back to the ground, losing consciousness, it become apparent it was much worse as team doctor Peter Finlayson attended to him.

MacDonald was stretchered from the field and from there his condition continued to deteriorate.

It is understood he had a seizure and lost consciousness again.

He went into cardiac arrest just minutes after being taken off the field and ambulance officers performed CPR for almost 10 minutes behind a tarpaulin put up for privacy.

They used a defibrillator to revive Macdonald when CPR and a shot of adrenaline failed to bring back his pulse.

He reportedly "flatlined" twice as his heart stopped and he came close to death.

Just 30 metres from where medics were battling to save MacDonald's life, Southland and Counties were still going head to head on the field.

After 15 to 20 minutes he was stabilised and taken to Middlemore Hospital, where he was put into an induced coma.

The New Zealand Rugby Union and Rugby Southland issued a statement late last night to say MacDonald had started to come out of the coma and the news was looking much better.

NZRU general manager professional rugby Neil Sorensen said: "MacDonald has started to come out of an induced coma and is showing early positive signs, including acknowledging questions and recognising people around him."

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The sombre turn of events had filtered through the Stags' management and up to the coaches' box just before halftime at the game on Saturday.

Coach David Henderson found it difficult to compose himself at the halftime break and decided to keep the players in the dark about what had happened to their team-mate.

"I was pretty cut up at halftime and it was hard to keep myself together, because something had gone seriously wrong," Henderson said. "I had to keep focused, but it was tough."

The Stags' management broke the news to the players soon after the final whistle.

Some of the senior players visited MacDonald in hospital on Saturday night.

MacDonald made his Southland debut in 2000 and played for the Melbourne Rebels in the Super Rugby competition before returning to New Zealand to play for the Highlanders and Stags this year.

- The Southland Times

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