Rep rugby player who scared everyone by collapsing and flatlining in a game gets behind fundraising.

Southlander Hoani MacDonald has learned a few tricks since a heart attack dropped him to the ground in an ITM Cup rugby match in Pukekohe last year.

The Invercargill father of two flatlined during the October match against Counties Manukau. Paramedics used a defibrillator, after CPR and a shot of adrenaline failed to bring back his pulse.

He was in hospital for a week and was fitted with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD).

Doctors still don't know exactly why the episode occurred but the ICD will kick in if MacDonald's heart starts to beat erratically by sending successive shocks which will get larger until the heart resets itself to a normal rate.


The 34-year-old is now fundraising for the Heart Foundation's appeal, which is running this month.

He said he'd taken a first aid course recently where he learned CPR, how to use a defibrillator and how to stop people from choking.

"I'm really stoked that I've done it and now if something happened I'd still crap my pants but I'd have some knowledge," he joked.

Life is good. MacDonald is now working in marketing and rugby development for the union, and is back to playing touch and doing some exercises.

But, because of the implant, he will never play contact sport again.

MacDonald recently married teenage sweetheart, Michelle, mother of his young sons Iwi and Kade.

At the weekend, he met up with the paramedic who worked on him while spectators held their breath.

"It's one of those things. How do you thank someone who saved your life?"

In the MacDonald whanau the current joke among some of his bigger cousins is that it was his fitness that got him into trouble, he said.

But he wants more Kiwis to go and get their tickers checked because 5000 people die of heart disease each year.