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North Jersey Rugby Player Critical After Suffering Heart Attack During Game

Tevita Bryce
Tevita Bryce Photo Credit: Tevita Bryce Facebook/montclair_rfc Instagram

Rugby player Tevita Bryce moved to the US after his mom died of cancer over the summer. But things are only getting more challenging for him. 

The Montclair Rugby Football Club player, 28, collapsed during a game against Morris Mens Rugby Saturday, according to an Instagram post by MRFC. Trained first responders on the opposing team began CPR as ambulances arrived.

Bryce's pulse was lost several times during the 28 minutes of CPR, according to a GoFundMe page launched by his brother-in-law, Lopei Tuipulotu.

He was rushed to St. Clare’s Denville Hospital, where doctors said it was a "true miracle" that Bryce is alive, Tuipulotu said.

Bryce under went surgery to clear an artery in his groin that moved back up to his heart. He had another heart attack during surgery -- and then flatlined again, according to Tuipulotu.

He was revived after four shocks from an AED, the campaign says. Bryce has been in the ICU and is facing at least another week there, and has at least another week to go, Tuipulotu says.

"He's a fighter," Tuipulotu said. "Will be a long road to recovery but thankfully he’s alive."

A lifelong rugby player, Bryce played in Tonga and played on scholarship while attending university in New Zealand.

He signed a professional contract to play for the Akita Bullets in Japan and a few years later, met his now-wife, Ashley Tuipulotu Bryce. The two have a 16-month-old baby together.

Two days after Bryce and his wife signed marriage papers at the courthouse, his mom was diagnosed with colon and stomach cancer.

"He dropped everything," Tuipulotu said. 

Bryce abandoned his own dreams and goals to help his mom through chemo. She eventually lost her battle.

That's when Bryce moved to the US from New Zealand in July. The family is staying in Totowa "with little to nothing," Tuipulotu said.

Bryce began working in construction last month and receives little to no benefits or insurance, according to his brother-in-law.

Not only does he have to worry about a physical recovery, but he's facing a financial battle, too.

Tuipulotu launched the campaign in an effort to make things a little easier for Bryce and his family.

"He’s a hilarious person," Tuipulotu told Daily Voice. "Very friendly, outgoing and brightens a room. He’s just a wholesome person. Sweet family man."

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