Kate’s heart is in footy

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - SUE DUNLEVY

KATE McCarthy, the first Aussie rules foot­baller to play with a pace­maker, is liv­ing proof of how Heart Foun­da­tion re­search fund­ing can be life-chang­ing.

The 26-year-old St Kilda AFLW for­ward was just a toddler when a se­ries of seizures led to the dis­cov­ery that she had a ma­jor heart prob­lem.

“At first they thought it was epilepsy but then they fig­ured out it was a heart block­age. I had an ir­reg­u­lar heart beat and my heart would stop beat­ing seven or eight times a night,” she said. “I’d feel like I was go­ing to faint and I’d lie down and black out for 10-20 sec­onds and then come back to.”

Doc­tors who had been mon­i­tor­ing her for years de­cided they needed to in­ter­vene when, at age 12, she had seven seizures in a row while at school.

A pace­maker was fit­ted dur­ing emer­gency surgery af­ter she was raced to hospital in an am­bu­lance.

In de­fi­ance of ad­vice she shouldn’t play con­tact sports, Kate went to AFL train­ing with a friend when she was 20 and took part in the ses­sion and loved it.

That week­end the women’s AFL team was a player short and asked if Kate could play, so she sought the ap­proval of her car­di­ol­o­gist.

It wasn’t long be­fore her abil­ity saw her signed up for the Bris­bane Li­ons. She was their lead­ing goal kicker in 2017 and this year she moved to St Kilda foot­ball club.

The pace­maker that changed Kate’s life was de­vel­oped in part with fund­ing from the Heart Foun­da­tion.

“It’s been life-chang­ing for sure,” she said.

Pic­ture: Michael Klein

Kate McCarthy kicks a goal.

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