Brett MacLean is just 23 years old, but he’s played in his final professional hockey game based on a Sportsnet report.
Still, after surviving sudden cardiac arrest during a pick-up game over the summer, he considers himself “lucky.”
“I remember going to the arena and going on the ice and that’s it,” MacLean said. “I guess 40 minutes in I made a pass and just collapsed.”
MacLean faced daunting odds as only 5% of people in Canada survive when they experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. Fortunately, two players, Jason Gallagher and Jason Silverthorn, performed CPR while a firefighter in the stands, Jay Forslund, got the portable defibrillator machine.
The cause of the cardiac arrest was unknown, so doctors put in an implantable cardiac defibrillator. Ultimately, he can’t play in contact sports with the device.
“We still held out some hope that he could help us down the road,” said Coyotes GM Don Maloney. “Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. But the good thing is he’s healthy and he can get on with his life.”
MacLean, who was taken with the 32nd overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft and played in 18 NHL games, is staying upbeat.
“When I was in the hospital, I had a tough time with why this happened to me,” said MacLean. “I’ve worked hard my whole life and I’ve eaten well and done the right things. … But now I look at it like at least I’m still here and at least I’m healthy.
“I’m looking at the bright side. If I can help other people in the future then it’s all worth it.”
To that end MacLean has already participated in the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s recent awareness campaign.
“The more people that know CPR, the more lives we’re going to save,” said MacLean.