On March 17, it will be 10 years to the day since former professional footballer Fabrice Muamba, now 33, suffered a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup match between Tottenham Hotspur and his team Bolton Wanderers. For an astonishing 78 minutes, medics battled to get his heart beating again.
EXCLUSIVE: Look back at Fabrice Muamba and wife Shauna's wedding day
And now, in an exclusive interview and photoshoot with HELLO! magazine where Fabrice and his wife Shauna pose for the first time with their family, they tell how their three sons have inherited the faulty gene which led to their father's collapse.
As a result, the promising young athletes have been pulled out of a prestigious football training academy to ensure they stay in good health.
WATCH: Relive Fabrice Muamba and wife Shauna's emotional wedding day
"When something like that happens, you are always going to be remembered for it and I was, am and will always be thankful and grateful for the care and support I had back then. But life for me now is about my wife, my family, my work and enjoying every precious day and what happened isn't something we sit and contemplate," Fabrice tells HELLO!.
The couple have three sons – Joshua, now 13, Matthew, eight, and five-year-old Gabriel – and daughter Zuri, born in November 2020. The boys have been scouted by Liverpool FC, but the couple tell HELLO! how they made the tough decision to pull them out, after learning all three have inherited the gene that caused Fabrice to develop hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition where part of the heart muscle grows thicker.
The couple's three sons have inherited the faulty gene which led to their father's collapse
"The gene is called RMB20 and it can mutate at any time," explains Shauna. "Intense exercise exacerbates the risk, which is basically what happened to Fab. As a parent, you want your children to be able to follow their dreams, but when you know it could potentially kill them, it's a call you have to make. There's a 50/50 chance of inheriting it and unfortunately, all three of our boys have."
"Shauna and I talked it through and processed it and their safety had to come first," says Fabrice. "It was hard breaking the news to them."
They also share one-year-old daughter Zuri
Fabrice and Shauna also reveal to HELLO! Great Ormond Street Hospital will study the children, in the hope it will lead to a better understanding of the gene and help other families.
"So something great has come out of it in that respect," says Shauna. "No-one in Fabrice's situation has lived to tell the tale before and this gene is very rare. Each year, we will travel to Great Ormond Street and stay over for a couple of nights while they run tests. That data will be compared year on year and if, God forbid, the gene mutates, it might help them understand what triggers that."
"It gives us a bit of security, knowing the boys are being closely monitored, so it helps us too," adds Fabrice.
To read the full article, pick up the latest issue of HELLO! on sale now. Subscribe to HELLO! to get the magazine delivered free to your door every week or purchase the digital edition online via our Apple or Google apps.