Mother welcomes teen death checks

THE mother of a teenager who died suddenly from a heart condition has welcomed an announcement that similar deaths will be referred to an expert for a definite cause of death.

By Annie Davidson

THE mother of a teenager who died suddenly from a heart condition has welcomed an announcement that similar deaths will be referred to an expert for a definite cause of death.

Ten years ago Frinton mum Caroline Gard lost her son, Andy, just days before his 18th birthday from a heart attack.

Since his death Mrs Gard has worked with the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) which aims to raise awareness of sudden death of young people due to largely undiagnosed heart conditions.


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Yesterday CRY announced funding of £300,000 would be invested nationwide so that expert cardiac pathologists could look into such cases and hopefully establish a cause of death.

Coroner's referrals to cardiac pathologists will be funded by CRY to speed up the process and give answers to bereaved families.

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Mrs Gard said yesterday: “Historically when there has been the death of a young person it has been difficult, in some areas, for the families to get an accurate report following the death.

“Some of the conditions which are very rare are difficult to see during a post mortem so it is difficult to say an exact cause of death.

“When you have lost a child or young person who is apparently fit and healthy it is very important to a family to find out what the cause is.

“Just being told 'it is one of those things' or 'natural causes' or something like that does not help a family with their grieving.

“Another reason, which is maybe even more important, is that if it is one of the conditions which is hereditary then the family really need to be aware of that so that any siblings or close relatives can be tested.”

Mrs Gard, who is CRY's divisional representative for the east, said the expert pathologist would be able to look at the deceased's person's heart and other pathology to identify the exact cause of death.

She added that the conditions, once known about, were detectable and treatable.

Founder and chief executive of CRY, Alison Cox, said: “We have debated the problem for two years now.

“The reality is that the NHS currently faces a funding crisis. Although this is not a Government priority, it is ours.

“We talk to affected families daily and our job is to try to mitigate their distress at this terrible time.

“These are genetic conditions and ensuring that the family are referred to cardiac specialists after their tragedy is crucial.

“Our offer of help for the coroners will release the current gridlock.”

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