Remarkable turnaround for cowboy dressage star

October 9, 2010

The life of cowboy dressage rider Eitan Beth-Halachmy hung in the balance for days after a heart turn at the opening of the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.


Eitan Beth-Halachmy and Santa Fe Renegade, pictured at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen.

The California-based rider had just finished performing when he slumped from his Morgan horse, Santa Fe Renegade, falling on a jump pole and rupturing his spleen in the process.

Nearby emergency medical technicans rushed to his aid and performed CPR to revive him. He was taken to the University of Kentucky Hospital, where he required surgery.

Now, word is that Beth-Halachmy will be making an appearance at the Games closing ceremony - on the giant video screens.

A recent update on Beth-Halachmy reports that a Games video camera team had been to the hospital to interview and video him.

The plan is to run the interview and video on the big screens.

"They are also going to bring to the closing ceremonies, all of the wonderful people who had a part in saving Eitan's life," family spokeswoman Bonnie Glasgow, who works for Beth-Halachmy's wife, Debbie, wrote to his supporters.

These include the emergency medical technicians on the scene, a retired Emergency Room doctor who was one of the first to attend to him, and the doctors and nurses at the University of Kentucky Hospital.

"[They] will all be there on Saturday evening to be thanked and recognised!"

Beth-Halachmy has been invited to the 2014 games in Normandy, France.

"WEG and the hospital both report that there have been a very large number of calls from all over the world inquiring about the progress of 8 [Beth-Halachmy's nickname]," Glasgow said.

Beth-Halachmy may be released from hospital within days. He is expected to stay for a short while in the Lexington area before returning west.

Glasgow said doctors do not believe Beth-Halachmy had a heart attack. However, he has a history of atrial fibrillation (an irregular or abnormal heartbeat), which has been managed through medication. He also had multiple bypass surgery 14 years ago.

"He is on various medications to treat the condition. Some of those medications can have side effects. The blood thinner that he is on can be dangerous when there is an injury," Glasgow said.

"At the end of the opening ceremonies Eitan went into ventricle fibrillation. This is, in effect, instant death. The heart stops beating. My understanding is that there is only a 10 per cent chance of survival from an episode of this. Eitan was fortunate to have competent help within feet of him as he collapsed," Glasgow said.

Retired emergency room trauma doctor Michael Rieser was nearby in the grandstand, and rushed in to help. "We all owe a thank you to Dr Rieser and the other emergency personnel who were at the games to give quality and swift care to Eitan."