A 27-year-old rugby player who suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch needed 17 minutes of CPR to be saved.

Steff Howells, a player for Cardiff's Clwb Rygbi Cymry Caerdydd, said he did not expect to spend days in hospital fighting for his life.

But he fell unconscious in October 2022 despite being described as "one of the fittest men on the pitch".

He is urging more people to learn or update their CPR skills, external.

About 6,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in Wales each year.

Steff, who is back to participating in light sports, said he wants to use his story of survival to show others the importance of providing help quickly.

"It was a regular Saturday. I picked up a coffee with a friend in the morning and went to play rugby on Pontcanna Fields," the openside flanker recalled.

"Next thing I know, I’m waking up a few days later at the University Hospital of Wales with no recollection of what happened."

"When I found out I had suffered a cardiac arrest on the rugby pitch, I couldn’t believe it," he said.

"I’m young, I’m fit, I’m healthy, I’ve played over 150 games of rugby.

"I never thought something like that would even be possible.

"You hear of cardiac arrests happening, but you don’t often hear about them in young people."

Dave Pemberton, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon and medic for Clwb Rygbi Cymry Caerdydd was pitch side when Steff collapsed.

He said he "went into professional mode", starting chest compressions while another person called 999.

"We were lucky to have a defib pitch side next to us so we could use that on Steff before he was rushed to hospital," he added.

While visiting him in hospital days later he remembered wondering if Steff, who was still unconscious, would wake up again.

"It was a difficult time for his friends, family, and for the club’s community," he said.

"Steff is our openside flanker, one of the fittest guys on the field.

"It just goes to show that something like this can happen to anyone.”

Steff, who is originally from Crymych in Pembrokeshire, is encouraging people across Wales to learn or update essential CPR and defibrillation skills.

"I was very lucky," he said.

"Other people in the team acted quickly, started CPR and ultimately saved my life."

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