WARRIORS academy prospect Shay Kerry is recovering in hospital after suffering a heart scare while playing against Leeds Carnegie in a Premiership Rugby Under 18 Academy League match on Saturday.
The 18-year-old lock, who signed for Worcester from New Zealand side Bay of Plenty in November, has been diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome, which causes the heart to beat abnormally fast and can prevent sufficient blood getting to the heart.
Kerry was being taken from the field on a stretcher after a suspected neck injury when his heart rate raced to a potentially life-threatening 210 beats-per-minute, causing genuine concern for the attending Warriors medical team.
He said: “I turned the ball over at a ruck and ran off with it, but got hit by a forearm across the side of my head.
“The doctors came on, assessed me and decided I needed to go off on a stretcher — that was when my heart rate shot up. I was quite calm, but everyone else was very concerned by the situation.
“I was put in an ambulance and my heart rate was as high as 210 beats-per-minute, compared to my resting heart rate of around 50 and my top-end capacity when I am exercising of around 190.
“It took around an hour for my heart rate to return to normal and, during that time, I felt very tired, before feeling very dizzy for around 30 seconds. Afterwards, I just needed to sleep and get plenty of rest.”
The highly-rated second row is currently in the cardiac care unit at the Alexandra Hospital, Redditch, and will undergo a procedure known as radiofrequency ablation in a bid to correct the problem.
WPW is a congenital condition, so Kerry has carried it since birth and it is caused by an extra electrical connection in the heart.
The surgery will see Kerry have a tube passed from an artery near his groin all the way to the small area in his heart that causes the fast heart rate, which will then be eradicated using a type of energy called radiofrequency.
A club statement said: “On Saturday in an academy fixture, Shay suffered a suspected neck injury.
“His time-critical injury was handled in an extremely professional manner by the ICIS- trained (Immediate Care In Sport) doctor and physiotherapist.
“He was taken to the Alexandra Hospital, Redditch, where his heart rate was stabilised by their excellent medical team.
“We are currently arranging the next step in Shay’s recovery and would like to thank all the people who have been involved to date, including all the staff in the Alexandra Hospital.”