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A Neurologist Raised Concerns Over The Safety Of MMA In Ireland Only Two Weeks Ago

A Neurologist Raised Concerns Over The Safety Of MMA In Ireland Only Two Weeks Ago
By Gavin Cooney

Following the tragic passing of Portuguese MMA fighter Joao Carvalho, a further spotlight has been shone on the safety surrounding Mixed Martial Arts. Carvalho was admitted to Beaumont Hospital twenty minutes after his third-round TKO defeat to Irish fighter Andrew Ward at the Total Extreme Fighting event at Dublin's National Stadium last Saturday. He fell into a critical condition upon arrival to hospital, and passed away at 9.35pm last night.

Dan Healy who is Consultant Neurologist at Beaumont Hospital along with an MMA fan, raised serious concerns about the safety surrounding MMA events in Ireland just two weeks ago. Healy was speaking ahead of the Cage Kings promotional event at the National Basketball Stadium, warning that the event did not have proper medical supervision and that the fact that Sport Ireland did not recognise MMA as a sport in Ireland meant that promotional events were not guaranteed proper medical supervision:

This is not a neurologist trying to get cage fighting banned. But it’s a sport where a man can drive his elbow into an eye socket with as much force as he can apply or kick him in the head with as much force as he can apply.

Either MMA is banned or it’s illegal and that’s the end of it; there is no risk. Or, and I think this is the more preferable option, that MMA is recognised and helped and rather than being continually criticised for being unsafe, it’s helped to be made safe.

This event is very dangerous and I would like to see Basketball Ireland assist in making this sport safer by insisting that the promoter has appropriate safety standards on the night.

It must be stressed that Carvalho's death occurred at a separate event  - Total Extreme Fighting - and that he was subject to what the medics on site believe to be full medical protocol:

The death of Carvalho appears to have been a cruel twist of fate, as he was treated to full medical procedure.


The medical organisation on site - Eventmed - confirmed to Peter Carroll of SevereMMA that Carvalho was put through the full medical protocols:

The doctors checked him [Carvalho] between each round and each time he gave a full response to them. He responded to each question. He was asked where he was, what round he was going in to and what day of the week it was, and all of his answers were perfect.

When the referee stopped the fight in the third round, our team of doctors and medics looked after him as he was bleeding quite heavily from his nose. He was asked if he felt any pain or was suffering with any headaches directly after the fight, and he said he had no pain or headaches, but he did feel quite tired.

It was explained to him that he had to visit the medical room that was set up in the venue and that he would have to go to the hospital afterwards, because the doctor recommended that he should have a CT scan after the fight. At this stage, the fighter was walking, talking and smiling. Everything seemed perfectly fine.

After he walked back to the medical room the doctors did some tests backstage and there was nothing out of the ordinary about their results. They prepared the ambulance to take him to the hospital.

Ten minutes later he started complaining that he was suffering from headaches. He felt a lot of nausea and he began to vomit. Five minutes later he was significantly worse so we got him into the ambulance and rang the hospital to let them know he was coming.

The statement on Facebook made by Carvalho's team confirming his death also stressed that Carvalho was the victim of the sport's caprices, and that they were satisfied that their fighter was given adequate medical treatment, saying that he passed away "despite continued monitoring by doctors who were part of the organisation of the event and the hospital", in a post that also flagged the "the risks of this sport".

In a further appeal to safety, Healy published an open letter to MMA fighters on the SevereMMA website, where he asked fighters to ensure that the following safety protocols were in place before they participated in a fight:

(i) at least one qualified medical doctor. This doctor should have experience managing acute closed head injury and have the skills, drugs and equipment to manage your airway were you to stop breathing

(ii) your opponent is a consenting adult in good health. This should be determined by a proper annual medical examination performed in advance of the day of the fight

(iii) on the day of the fight that you and your opponent are given adequate and unrushed time with the doctor before and more importantly after each fight

(iv) appropriate plans exist for emergency ambulance transfer to one of the 2 neurosurgical units in Ireland (Beaumont Hospital and CUH in Cork)

(v) the promotion and doctor are correctly insured

(vi) you and your opponent are evenly matched and that the referee know the rules.

Conor McGregor - present at the fight which ended with Carvalho's death - admitted afterwards that the referee could have stopped the fight earlier, quoted as saying that "the referees need to be on the ball a bit more".


[Irish Times]

See Also: What Went Wrong At The Total Extreme Fighting Event Saturday Night?


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