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Craig Cunningham to be released from hospital

Captain of Tucson in AHL expected to be discharged before Christmas @NHLdotcom

Craig Cunningham, captain of Tucson of the American Hockey League, will likely be discharged from Banner University Medical Center Tucson before Dec. 25.

Cunningham, his mother Heather, Roadrunners general manager Doug Soetaert, and several doctors will speak during a news conference at noon ET on Wednesday.

Cunningham, 26, has been hospitalized since collapsing on the ice before a game against Manitoba on Nov. 19. Medical personnel performed chest compressions before transporting him to Carondelet St. Mary's Hospital, where CPR was continued. Two days later, Arizona Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said Cunningham was in critical but stable condition. Tucson is the Coyotes' AHL affiliate.

Cunningham was soon transferred to Banner, where he received advanced life-saving therapy using ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), a specialized procedure for patients so critically ill that no other support for the heart and lungs is adequate.

"A pump circulates blood through a circuit of tubing supporting heart function and through an oxygenator, which functions as an artificial lung," Banner said in a statement released Tuesday. "It is used to help patients of all ages with life-threatening conditions that impair heart and/or lung function. Most patients who need ECMO are almost certain to die without this level of support."

Though Cunningham's condition continued to worsen, a procedure developed by Dr. Zain Khalpey using a left ventricular assist device, Oxy-LVAD, allowed his heart to recover.

"The quick action of bystanders who performed effective CPR, the actions of St. Mary's staff, and the advanced technology and care provided at Tucson's academic medical center have led to a truly remarkable recovery," Banner said.

Selected by the Boston Bruins in the fourth round (No. 97) of the 2010 NHL Draft, Cunningham was claimed off waivers by the Coyotes on March 2, 2015. The forward has three goals and eight points in 65 NHL games with the Bruins and Coyotes, and four goals and 13 points in 11 games with Tucson, including the first goal in Roadrunners history on Oct. 14.

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