A totally healthy teenage boy tragically died of a rare ‘heart concussion’ after playing football with his friends.
Keelan MacKnight, a 15-year-old from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, was hit with the ball just under his ribs during the exact moment his heart was at its most vulnerable.
After suffering from a fatal heart arrhythmia, the teenager collapsed on the pitch.
The condition known as ‘concussion of the heart’ is incredibly rare. It is more common in the US, where children can be hit in the chest with hard baseballs or hockey pucks.
William Freeman, also 15 at the time, said in a statement read at an inquest today: ‘We arranged to meet on the astro. He was just normal. We started a game of headers and volleys.
‘Keelan took his turn in goal. The ball came towards him and he put his hands in the keeper save position. The ball missed his hands, hitting him in the centre of his chest.
‘He looked like he had been winded. I knew something wasn’t right because his face had gone pale and blue.’
William quickly called an ambulance, while a dad who was playing with his son in the park rushed over and tried to administer CPR.
Keelan was rushed to Stoke Mandeville hospital in an air ambulance, before being transferred to the John Radciffe Hospital in Oxford.
But tragically, he passed away in the early hours of the following morning.
Consultant Pathologist Dr Lucie Winter told the inquest in Oxfordshire that she carried out the post-mortem examination with national cardiac expert Professor Mary Sheppard.
‘There was no obvious cause of death at all,’ Dr Winter said. ‘I liaised with Mary Sheppard who agreed to urgently access the heart.’
Concluding, Coroner Darren Salter said: ‘Keelan was simply struck in the chest with a football. It is not apparent the football was even kicked very hard.
‘But with the way the heart works it is thought, but not fully understood, that there is a small window where if the chest is struck in that particular point it can, very rarely, result in what’s called an arrhythmia.
‘I think the cause of death is the ball striking Keelan in the chest accidentally. So I think the conclusion here is one of accidental death.’