Footballer killed by rare heart condition

Oxford Mail: Paul Thompson, right, playing for Witney Royals Paul Thompson, right, playing for Witney Royals

A FOOTBALLER who died on a Witney training ground was killed by an “extremely” rare form of heart failure.

Father-of-one Paul Thompson collapsed in Burwell Meadow during a pre-season training session with Witney Royals Football Club on the evening of July 17.

Despite attempts by team mates and paramedics to resuscitate him, he was pronounced dead by a doctor on the field half-an-hour later.

An inquest into his death at Oxford Coroner’s Court yesterday heard the 38-year-old had visited his GP in February complaining of chest pains.

Tests showed Mr Thompson, of Saxel Close, Aston, had two minor heart valve abnormalities.

But his GP, Dr Peter Grim-wade of Bampton Medical Centre, said nothing was detected to suggest he should not lead a normal life.

He was given the go-ahead to continue exercising, and was also told he did not need to take any medication.

Dr Grimwade said: “There weren’t any side effects as a result of the valve abnormalities.”

Mr Thompson had a daughter Lilli, four, with his wife Nikki Rouse-Thompson, 40.

He was a plumber with his father Michael’s Chipping Norton-based firm Thompson Heating and Plumbing Ltd.

He also played the bass guitar in two bands, Fused and Molotov Sexbomb.

Pathologist Prof Ian Roberts performed a post-mortem examination two days after his death and found an 8mm scar on Mr Thompson’s heart, along with the two valve problems. But he said a sudden death that stemmed from the abnormalities was extremely rare.

He said an expert in the field, Dr Mary Sheppard, had only seen 45 similar cases in her 18-year career.

And he said he only saw one or two cases of sudden cardiac death in the 250 post-mortems he carried out every year.

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He added: “Cases such as Mr Thompson’s death are rare.

“Myopic valve prolapse is itself relatively common but sudden cardiac death associated with it is very rare.”

He also said he was unsure whether or not the scar on the heart wall could have been a factor in Mr Thompson’s death, adding: “We cannot say for certain how that scar came into being.”

Coroner Darren Salter recorded a verdict that Mr Thompson had died of natural causes.

He said: “At Paul’s age it was unexpected and a massive shock. It does seem to have been an extremely rare condition.”

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