Meet the man who died seven times….

Try as he might, Scott Fleming just can't remember much about the day he died.

He can remember what he did the night before – "I stayed up late to watch a film," he says – and he can even remember sitting up in hospital after six days in a coma to learn he was gravely ill.

He can certainly remember discovering it was only sheer chance that he survived against the odds after dropping down 'dead' at the side of the football pitch.

but the desperate battle to restart his life, the breakneck ambulance journey under police escort to hospital and the numerous times his heart stopped beating on the way are, fortunately, erased from his mind.

Today he is almost back to normal after staring death in the face not once, but seven times, eight if you count the subsequent life-threatening operation to repair a damaged windpipe, the result of the emergency treatment on that fateful day.

And it is only now, two years on, that he can finally talk about the drama of that horrific day – for his damaged throat left him unable to talk for over a year.

"I should be dead," says Scott, 29, as he reflects on the remarkable episode at the side of a Torphichen football pitch, just moments after he had signalled to his team mates that he couldn't play on.

"I flatlined seven times that day, my heart stopped and the ambulance radioed ahead to St John's Hospital in Livingston to say expect me to be DOA – dead on arrival.

"No-one knows why my heart started to beat again – I'm just glad that it did."

Scott should have been yet another tragic statistic, one of the estimated eight children and young adults – many outwardly fit and healthy, and often sporty – who die suddenly each week in the UK from undetected cardiac abnormalities.

And why his heart should suddenly correct itself from a potentially fatal collapse, while others have been less fortunate, has left him baffled.

He was playing left back for Sunday League side Balbairdie in a match against a Grangemouth team in December 2004 when he began to feel unwell. Unknown to him, he was among the 1.5 per 1000 people in the population with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, a congenital condition that can lie dormant and undetected for years, which can cause little more than a rapid heartbeat but, at its worst, can be deadly.

Not that there had been anything to safest the fit, amateur sportsman had a potentially fatal heart condition.

"I played football, I'd go for long runs, I'd swim a few times a week and play football for 90 minutes without any problems. I was fighting fit, healthy," says Scott.

I looked after myself, I had a good diet. I did the Glasgow half marathon and, okay I ended up a bit red in the face and my heart was thumping, but I didn't think that was particularly unusual.

"I honestly can't say I suffered any kind of symptoms."

Which was why when he felt odd during the Sunday League match, the design technician from Lakeside Drive in Blackburn, decided to watch the remainder of the match from the bench.

"I sat on the bench and that was me, I just collapsed."

His friend, fellow Balbairdie player, Thomas Bannon, 29, of Riddochill Road, Blackburn watched in horror as Scott slumped, lifeless, to the ground and turned a ghastly shade of blue.

"It was horrible to see, really awful," he recalls.

"He'd said he had some palpitations and was a bit light-headed. then to see him collapse and everyone around trying to help – well it's not particularly pleasant."

Unknown to Scott, he had been born with the inexplicable heart condition in which there are one or more extra electrical pathways in the heart, sometimes interfering with the organ's proper rhythm. Usually the condition – easily spotted by a simple EGG test – causes little more than palpitations, faintness and dizziness, but it can, as in his case, cause the heart to fail. And that can lead to sudden death.

Thankfully, the match referee and another player, both with medical training, were on hand to perform vital resuscitation techniques which undoubtedly saved his life, Scott faced a life-or-death dash in an ambulance to St John's intensive care unit, where medics fought to stabilise him and search for the cause of his near-fatal collapse.

"My mum was told to expect the worst," recalls Scott.

"Then they said there was a fair chance I'd wake from the coma with brain damage."

A simple operation a few weeks later – known as an ablation, it involves passing a wire into the heart to prevent further wild electrical interruptions to the organ – meant Scott was effectively "cured."

But there was more to come.

Within weeks it emerged that his windpipe had been damaged by the emergency oxygen he had been given during his fight for life. And as his throat swelled, he needed a tracheotomy in April last year to help him breathe.

Eventually, medics warned Scott he would need a difficult operation to stretch and repair his damaged windpipe – one that would allow him to breathe and speak normally again but which had the potential to go horribly wrong.

"It was a very scary operation," recalls Scott. "But I'd had 14 months with the tracheotomy in which I couldn't speak. I had no choice but to go for the operation because I couldn't spend the rest of my life not being able to speak."

Faced with the prospect of a life in which he could only communicate via the written word, sign language and mouthing words, Scott signed the consent forms and surgeons operated in August.

Scott was kept in a coma for five days to give the surgery time to heal – for a sudden neck movement could have snapped his windpipe.

"And that would have been 'goodnight', he explains.

Next month he wi8ll return to hospital for a final round of checks, when it's hoped medics will give him a clean bill of health.

But while he has been lucky, Scott is determined to raise awareness of Wolff-Parkinson-Syndrome in the hope he can prevent a more tragic outcome for someone else. And he has joined support group CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) and their campaign to have heart checks for all young people.

"Many people have no idea they have this, yet it can be diagnosed with a straightforward ECG," he says.

"Okay, it costs money but there is an argument that young people should be tested – after al, look at what it's probably cost the NHS to treat me."

He smiles: "It's probably cost them more in giving me cups of tea than it would have done for an ECG."

Once diagnosed, some cardiac irregularities such as Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome can be treated with a simple 'keyhole' surgery techniques – such as Scott's procedure to insert a wire into his heart via an artery, performed while he was awake.

"I was incredibly lucky," nods Scott.

"I got through this thanks to the two guys who helped me before the ambulance arrived, the paramedics who were fantastic and the hospital staff, who have been amazing throughout it all.

"I certainly don't blame them for what happened to my windpipe – they were trying to save my life after all."

He adds: "I've been told that my heart isn't at risk now and I've been back to the gym, swimming and I'm even thinking about starting jogging.

"As for football, the docto9rs say there's no reason why not, but after my last experience on the pitch, I think I might not bother."

More information about Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome and Sudden Death Syndrome is available from Cardiac Risk in the Young at https://www.c-r-y.org.uk. CRY also runs private ECG screening sessions, call 0208 423 7200.