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Bolton’s Muamba Able to Recognize Family, Respond, Club Says

Bolton’s Muamba ‘Critical’ After Collapsing During Game
Medical staff in the ground treated Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba on the pitch with a defibrillator before he was carried off on a stretcher. Photographer: Olly Greenwood/AFP/Getty Images

Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba has been able to recognize family members and respond to questions at the London hospital where he’s being treated after suffering a heart attack in an F.A. Cup soccer match.

The 23-year-old remains in intensive care at the London Chest Hospital, though is also able to breathe independently without the aid of a ventilator, the English Premier League team said on its website. He had a “comfortable night,” Bolton said today.

“These are all positive signs of progress,” Bolton said in a joint statement with the hospital released last evening. “However, his condition remains serious and the medical staff in intensive care will continue to monitor him.”

The club and hospital said earlier yesterday that Muamba’s heart was beating without the aid of medicine and he was also moving his arms and legs, although “his long-term prognosis will remain unclear for some time.”

The player was put into a medically-induced coma two days ago after collapsing on the pitch near the end of the first half of the game against Tottenham at White Hart Lane in north London. Medical staff at the stadium treated the player on the pitch with a defibrillator before he was carried off on a stretcher as both sets of supporters chanted his name.

“It was the first time in my 19 years as a professional that I’ve seen a football stadium unite,” Bolton captain Kevin Davies said on his team’s website. “It was touching.”

It took two hours to get Muamba’s heart working after his collapse. Players and fans were visibly upset, with some in tears. Match referee Howard Webb took both teams off the field and moments later abandoned the game with the score tied 1-1.

F.A. Cup Doubt

Bolton is considering withdrawing from the F.A. Cup, England’s premier cup competition, the Daily Mirror reported yesterday. The Trotters may pull out of a re-match with Spurs because of the likely psychological impact on Muamba’s teammates, the newspaper said.

Bolton’s Premier League game at Aston Villa scheduled for today has been postponed. Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean said his club would do “whatever Bolton wish” with regards to their March 24 league match.

Bolton yesterday invited supporters to attend the Reebok Stadium tonight for a period of “quiet reflection and prayer in support of Fabrice Muamba.”

Democratic Republic of Congo-born Muamba, a member of the England under-21 national team and a former Arsenal midfielder, is in his fourth season with Bolton. He has appeared in 19 matches this season, scoring once.

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