'It was a team effort': Hero doctor tells how he helped save Newcastle Utd fan's life

Dr Tom Pritchard
Credit: NCJMedia

The NHS doctor who helped save the life of a man who suffered a cardiac arrest during a Premier League game at St James' Park says he "was just doing my job".

The fan, Alan George Smith, is "making great progress, is now fully alert and is up and walking about" - according to his family.

Sunday's tie against Tottenham was halted just before half-time when players alerted the referee to an elderly man who had collapsed in the stands.

Tottenham and England centre back Eric Dier called over the club medic after teammate Sergio Reguilón alerted the referee to the situation. Credit: PA

Dr Tom Prichard was in the Gallowgate Stand when he saw fans in the East Stand signalling towards St John's Ambulance staff for help.

The A&E registrar at University Hospital of North Tees decided to offer his support.

By the time he arrived, a member of the public had begun CPR and St John's Ambulance Service had arrived with a defibrillator.

Dr Prichard describes to ITV News Tyne Tees how he and a friend - Matty, a fellow doctor - took over CPR and administered two shocks with the defibrillator.

The second shock revived the Mr Smith. Dr Prichard later returned to his seat to a standing ovation from the crowd.

Fans in the ground looked shocked and worried when the game, which had a global TV audience of millions, was stopped for 20 minutes, with the players coming off the pitch while work went on to save the man's life.

Despite the standing ovation and international recognition, Dr Prichard refuses to consider himself a hero.

Dr Prichard says the incident shows the importance of early intervention and defibrillator provision.

"What saved this man was early CPR by one of the people next to him and early defibrillation," he explains.

On Wednesday, Mr Smith's son Paul provided the following statement:

"We are pleased to advise that Alan is making great progress, is now fully alert and is up and walking about. He will remain in hospital over the next few days while further tests are carried out.

"He and our family would like to say thank you to his friend, Don Williamson, who was with him at the time and alerted everyone to his condition.

Alan George Smith Credit: Family photo

"We would also like to thank and pay tribute to the doctors and nurses who administered CPR, the paramedics from North East Ambulance Service, St John’s Ambulance, fans and stewards at the scene, as well the medical staff at the RVI and Freeman Hospital. We will be forever grateful.

"We would also like to say thank you to all of the people who have wished Alan well on social media and the players and staff of both Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur, especially Jamaal Lascelles who has sent a personal message. It meant so much to Alan.

"He is looking forward to getting back to St. James’ Park as soon as possible."