Chichester boy, 9, will help his school fund a defibrillator after Christian Eriksen’s collapse at Euro 2020

A Chichester boy is preparing to complete a ten-mile sponsored cycle ride to buy life-saving equipment for his school.

Monday, 5th July 2021, 4:03 pm
Updated Monday, 5th July 2021, 4:04 pm

Ralph Bowden, from Chichester, was inspired to take on the challenge after watching footballer Christian Eriksen suffer a cardiac arrest during Euro 2020. His life was saved on the pitch by prompt CPR and the use of a defibrillator.

The shocking incident resonated strongly with Ralph as his dad, Dean, had a cardiac arrest in 2007 when he was just 21-years-old.

Like Danish midfielder Eriksen, Dean was also fitted with an implantable defibrillator – or ICD – after his cardiac arrest to help prevent dangerous heart rhythms in the future.

The shocking incident involving Christian Eriksen resonated strongly with Ralph as his dad, Dean, had a cardiac arrest in 2007 when he was just 21-years-old

His son, who attends Jessie Younghusband Primary School, now wants to potentially save other lives by raising money for a defibrillator.

Ralph will cycle 10 miles along Centurion Way on July 17. He chose this distance as Eriksen wears the number 10 shirt.

He said: “I wanted to do this cycle ride because of what happened to my dad and Christian Eriksen.

"There are a lot of staff and people at my school, and I want everyone there to be safe. I think it’s going to be quite hard to cycle 10 miles, but I hope that encourages people to donate some money.”

Dean’s cardiac arrest was caused by a condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), an inherited disease of the heart muscle.

About 1 in 500 of the UK population has the condition, although most people who have it have few, if any, symptoms and can live a normal life.

Dean, who is now 34, said: “I was working for a bank at the time. It seemed a normal day.

"I went to went to the printer to get some paperwork and I collapsed to the floor. I have no memory of what happened, but someone heard me fall.

"They found me unconscious and without a pulse. Two colleagues started to give me CPR.

"When the ambulance arrived, they used a defibrillator and then rushed me to hospital. I was put in an induced coma and put on life support for the next 27 hours.”

Memories of that experience were brought back to Dean when Eriksen unexpectedly fell to the ground during the match between Denmark and Finland.

Dean had been watching the game with wife and son, Ralph.

Dean, who works as an independent mortgage broker, said: “When I saw Christian Eriksen collapse, I looked at my wife and said we need to turn over.

"There was no one near him and, because of what had happened to me, I knew it was serious and likely to be a cardiac arrest.

“We changed the channel, but Ralph was asking lots of questions about what had happened to the footballer and why we’d turned over.

"Fortunately, within 15 minutes or so, pictures began to circulate on social media showing that Eriksen was conscious and that he was going to be OK.

“My wife and I were able then to explain what had happened. Ralph knows that I’ve had a cardiac arrest in the past and that I have a special box in my chest to keep me alive.

"Seeing what had happened to Christian Eriksen made him understand what had happened to me. That’s when he decided he wanted to buy a defibrillator for his school.”

A cardiac arrest is a critical medical emergency, where the heart stops pumping blood around the body.

Unless treated immediately, it leads to death within minutes. There are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCAs) in the UK each year.

The overall survival rate in the UK is just 1 in 10. It is estimated that public-access defibrillators are used in less than five per cent of OHCAs.

Hannah Miller, fundraising manager for the British Heart Foundation, said: “Everyone who saw what happened to Christian Eriksen was profoundly moved.

"I have nothing but admiration for Ralph’s fundraising. He saw those shocking scenes and his thoughts turned immediately to how he could help other people.

"Ralph is clearly a remarkable young man, and we hope that he can make his fundraising cycle a success.”

People can donate to Ralph’s fundraising campaign online at uk.gofundme.com/f/sponsor-ralphs-ride-get-a-defibrillator-for-jys