A teenage kickboxer died because of a medical “fluke”, when a blow to his chest caused him to go into cardiac arrest during a fight.
Scott Marsden, 14, collapsed in the final seconds of the fifth round of a fight in Leeds in March 2017.
According to consultant paediatric pathologist Kerry Turner, Scott died from commotio cordis, a rare disruption of the heart’s rhythm caused by a direct blow at a specific moment in the heart beat cycle.
Speaking at Scott’s inquest, Dr Turner explained there are three elements to this condition – the impact, the location over the heart and the timing in the heart’s cycle.
She said: “It is a tragic fluke that all three things line up in the correct way.
“For all these things to line up in the right way is very rare.”
The pathologist told the inquest Scott, who was from Sheffield, had no pre-existing heart defects. Her conclusion was a “diagnosis of exclusion” because there was no other explanation for why he would go into cardiac arrest.
Scott had been training since he was about four or five years old, the inquest was told, and competing in gyms from the age of eight. His father, Simon, runs a gym in Sheffield.
His mother Jo read a statement to the court in Wakefield, saying her son “had a heart of gold and would do anything for anyone”.
Paul Lynch, who ran the event at which Scott died, said it was the fourth one he had put on but the first which had been “full contact”.
The fights took place under World Kickboxing Association (WKA) rules, at Leeds Martial Arts College in Morley.
Mr Lynch said a private medical team was at the event, sourced from a company called TopCat. He told the inquest that he was “under the impression I was booking a team of paramedics”.
Competition rules state there should be a “physician” present at bouts, but a doctor who had attended previous events who was heavily pregnant at the time was at the fight only in a social capacity and was mistaken as the medic, the inquest heard.
Jon Green, former president of the WKA and a judge on the night, witnessed Scott fall after a spinning kick from his opponent.
He told the inquest he believed that the pregnant doctor was at the bout in an official capacity.
Mr Green said he believed an NHS ambulance took 40 minutes to arrive, questioning official figures that it took 21 minutes to get to the scene.
He also claimed he felt the ambulance crew was in “no rush whatsoever”.
Ian Furber, an emergency medical technician with TopCat, told Scott’s father he did not feel he was out of his depth when he treated the teenager before the ambulance arrived.
Dr Steven Dykes, deputy medical director for Yorkshire Ambulance Service, said the service had investigated the 999 call response, and told the court it had initially been given an eight minute target response time.
The 999 call was made at 10.33pm on the night of the fight and the ambulance arrived at 10.51pm.
The call had been regraded to an urgent “amber” level when it was travelling but this would not have made any difference to the arrival time because it was already on the way, he said.
Dr Dykes confirmed that call handlers had been told Scott was being treated by four paramedics, when in reality it was staff from the private medical service, who were not paramedics.
Paul Onion, a consultant in emergency medicine, arrived at the scene after 11pm as part of a specialist cardiac arrest team. He told the court he inserted a tube into Scott’s airway and gave him adrenaline.
He said Scott’s heart did start beating again but he did not know if this was because of anything he had done.
He was it was “not possible to know” whether anything would have been different he had been able to arrive earlier.
The inquest was adjourned until Tuesday, when it is expect to finish.