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Kansas City Chiefs lineman BJ Thompson needed defibrillator shock to restart heart at team meeting after cardiac arrest

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Kansas City Chiefs lineman BJ Thompson needed defibrillator shock to restart heart at team meeting after cardiac arrest


Kansas City Chiefs backup defensive lineman BJ Thompson is “awake and alert,” his agent told NBC News on Friday, after the athlete suffered a seizure and cardiac arrest on Thursday. 

The 25-year-old athlete Thompson had the seizure during a special teams meeting Thursday and briefly went into cardiac arrest, agent Chris Turnage confirmed, triggering a swift response from fellow team members and staff — including a defibrillator shock to restart his heart. 

“We don’t have a diagnosis. In medicine sometimes you don’t have that,” Rick Burkholder, the Chiefs’ vice president of sports medicine and performance, told reporters Friday. “He’s awake and alert and he’s headed in the absolute right direction. All things good in a little bit of a hairy situation.”

Burkholder detailed the response, saying that Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker “immediately ran towards the training room” after Thompson started seizing and grabbed the attention of team athletic training staff members.

BJ Thompson #53 of the Kansas City Chiefs walks off the field during a game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on Aug. 19, 2023 in Glendale, Ariz. Ric Tapia / Getty Images

A medical office was down the hall from where Thompson was having the seizure and a doctor quickly came in to assist. 

“As a team we tried to stabilize BJ and put him on the floor while he was still seizing. Then he went into cardiac arrest. Our team of that group of people provided CPR for him,” Burkholder said.

“He had one AED (automated external defibrillator) shock and came back. So he was only in cardiac arrest for less than a minute, minute and a half,” Burkholder said. 

The Kansas City Fire department and paramedics then took over. Thompson was taken to The University of Kansas Health System, where “he was heavily sedated through the night,” Burkholder said.

Thompson was placed on a ventilator overnight “just so he could breathe because he was so heavily sedated” and he was brought out of sedation Friday morning, he noted.

Burkholder noted that the NFL mandates that teams do emergency action plans that must be practiced a couple times a year, and “ironically, we practiced on Monday.”

“That’s a tough, tough situation,” Head Coach Andy Reid said at the press conference. “We’ve been through a couple of those before in my time and it’s never, ever fun. Thank goodness. I mean, if it had to happen, no better place than right here where you have a support unit that knows what to do.”

The health scare saw all team activities canceled Thursday.

Reid said he filled in the team about the incident after it happened, and offered support staff for those who need it. “They came back today with good energy,” the coach told reporters.

Teammates echoed messages of support for Thompson. Defensive end George Karlaftis said that while he wasn’t in the room during the incident, he’s glad there was a swift response.

“I’m just glad to see that he’s doing good. When you have a guy go down like that, you never want that. For anyone,” Kalraftis said. “I’m hoping and praying for a speedy recovery for BJ.”

Thompson was a 2023 fifth-round pick and appeared in one game in his rookie season, according to NFL.com.



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