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Teenager's life saved by quick-thinking coach

CONNOR Sharpe's life changed in an instant, his dreams of a professional football career dashed due to a medical condition that would keep him off the field.

But thanks to the quick actions of his coach and advanced care paramedics, the 15-year-old still has a future in music.

Connor had just left the Brothers Leagues Club field when he collapsed and started seizing.

With a rapidly dropping pulse, his mother Wendy Sharpe frantically called the ambulance while his coach Jason Brookes acted on instinct and administered CPR.

That instinct saved Connor's life which meant he was able to thank his heroes at a reunion yesterday.

"I don't remember a thing," Connor said.

"I was going off for water, doing rugby training, then collapsed, seized and had a bit of a spasm.

"My lips and ears went blue."

THANKS COACH: Fifteen-year-old Connor Sharpe thanks his coach, Jason Brookes who performed CPR while waiting for paramedics to arrive after Connor went into cardiac arrest at the Brothers Leagues Club.
THANKS COACH: Fifteen-year-old Connor Sharpe thanks his coach, Jason Brookes who performed CPR while waiting for paramedics to arrive after Connor went into cardiac arrest at the Brothers Leagues Club. Bev Lacey

Mrs Sharpe can recall every detail of the harrowing moment, having faced every parent's worst nightmare when she watched her son collapse last month.

"Everything was so fast (and) everyone says you're a hero but as a parent, your intuition kicks in and you just do it," she said.

As she called the Queensland Ambulance Service, Connor's coach Mr Brookes started CPR.

"I turned around and he was on his back so we flipped him over as a precaution and he started seizing," Mr Brookes said.

"We started CPR and just kept going (with it)."

Advanced care paramedics Daniel Bibo and Sarah Williams arrived four minutes later.

Fifteen-year-old Connor Sharpe meets the paramedics, Sarah Williams and Danial Bibo who saved him followng a cardiac arrest at the Brothers Leagues Club.
Fifteen-year-old Connor Sharpe meets the paramedics, Sarah Williams and Danial Bibo who saved him followng a cardiac arrest at the Brothers Leagues Club. Bev Lacey

Connor had gone into cardiac arrest and had to be defibrillated on the football grounds.

"It's not something that happens to a 15-year-old every day," Mr Bibo said.

"The fact they were able to do CPR on him is one of the biggest factors in why Connor is up and around walking."

Connor has since been diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, known as Athlete's Heart, which means his days of playing contact sports are over.

"As a player, Conner is a gun so unfortunately we lose a good player next year," Mr Brookes said.

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"He ended up our highest try scorer this year, and our best back.

"But all I really care about is that he's up and good and strong."

The incident changed Connor's life in more ways than one, but now he can look forward to a long career as a saxophonist having won an Empire Theatre Foundation bursary.

"It's a shame because it (sport) has basically been my whole life up until this point but, again, everything can change in the space of a second," he said.

Fifteen-year-old Connor Sharpe with his parents, Wendy and Scott Sharpe.
Fifteen-year-old Connor Sharpe with his parents, Wendy and Scott Sharpe. Bev Lacey

But it's the message that everyone should learn CPR that he focused on yesterday when he reunited with Mr Brookes and the paramedics who saved his life.

"It (CPR) can change a person's life - you can be a hero," he said.

QAS acting Officer-in-Charge Derrick Scheuer urged everyone to take a CPR course.

"I encourage all community members to make the effort because they never know when their loved ones will need this procedure," he said.

Connor now has an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator in his chest which gives him a small shock if his pulse drops to a low point that could trigger another seizure.

"It was a terrifying three days when he was intubated in the coma because you're thinking so many things," Mrs Sharpe said.

"But there're no words that can explain (the relief).

"Once he started getting cranky at me, I thought 'yep, he's back to his usual self'."

Topics:  cpr editors picks paramedics queensland ambulance service


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