Kate’s heart is in footy
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.
Kate McCarthy kicks a goal.