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derby,s young hero


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DERBY County starlet Mark O'Brien has undergone heart surgery.

The 16-year-old defender – Academy Scholar of the Year and the Republic of Ireland Under-16 Player of the Year – had the operation at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital.

Now he faces three to four months rest before he will look to resume his promising career.

"I'm glad it is out of the way now and everything is going according to plan," said the youngster, who made his first-team debut for the Rams at Watford in the final Championship fixture of last season.

"I'm feeling fit and healthy, and I'm just looking forward to getting back playing again," added O'Brien.


"The club has been fantastic with me and I'd like to thank everyone for their wonderful support."

O'Brien's heart condition was spotted when he underwent a routine medical scan, which is compulsory for all scholars.

He was advised to have surgery straight away.

"I didn't really notice there was anything wrong other than the fact my heart rate was really high during training. I didn't have any of the other symptoms such as dizziness," said O'Brien.

The operation repaired valves in his heart.

Heart valves maintain the directional flow of blood in the heart by opening and closing depending on the difference in pressure on each side.

O'Brien's heart condition was to do with the length of time between the valves opening and closing, and therefore the amount of blood being pumped through.

The condition, if left undiscovered, can be life-threatening.

Doctors have said the surgery was "successful" and there is no reason why O'Brien cannot resume playing as normal after a suitable recovery time.

Only days after the operation he was back at the Rams' Moor Farm training ground mixing with his Academy team-mates.

He also went to watch the Reserves play Macclesfield Town at Alfreton last week.

"I know I cannot rush back. I've been told to take my time and ease back into things," he said.

"I'll be back in the New Year when everything has healed. I'll be back then, and I can't wait."

Rams youth team manager John Perkins says news of the heart condition and the operation has been a major ordeal for the player and his family.

"The dignity and courage they have shown has been humbling to say the very least," added Perkins.

"Mark is a very calm individual who takes everything in his stride and this has been no different.

"He was back at Moor Farm days after having the op and was strolling around as if nothing had happened.

"He is an extremely dedicated professional who looks after himself and there is no doubt when he gets back into training he will be working hard to get back to the level he was at before and hopefully even better."

good luck son, and a speedy recovery!

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