Couple's agony as a third daughter falls victim to mystery sudden death


Couple who

had already lost two daughters to an unexplained medical condition told

yesterday of their devastation when a third daughter mysteriously

collapsed and died and was later identified as a victim of Sudden Death



Linforth, a "bubbly and happy" 16-year-old, had complained of

slight chest pains, but these had been passed off as indigestion.


teenager was sitting at her desk on her first day as an A-level student

last September when she suddenly fell unconscious.


at Cadbury Sixth Form College in Kings Norton, Birmingham, tried to revive

her, but failed.


parents, John and Evelyn, were stunned. They had lost another

daughter, Amanda, at eight weeks old to cot death in 1986. Then

three years later, another child, Zoe, was stillborn.


at the Heart Hospital and University College Hospital in London later

concluded that Alison had died from Sudden Adult Death Syndrome.


an inquest yesterday, the Linforth's were told their daughter may have

been the victim of an extremely rare heart condition.


Dr Henry Thompson said the hereditary condition, Long QT syndrome, could

also have been responsible of the deaths of their two other

daughters. Tests are now being carried out on the rest of the

family, including their only surviving child, Gemma, a 20-year-old nursing

student. The findings may contribute to the debate over the

discredited theory of Professor Sir Roy Meadow that "one cot death is

a tragedy, two is suspicious and three is murder, unless proven



and Mrs Linforth have now backed calls from the charity Cardiac Risk in

the Young (CRY) for routine heart screening to prevent Sudden Death



Private Member's Bill supporting such a move is due before the House of

Commons on March 12.


claims that between four and eight apparently fit and healthy young people

die from undiagnosed heart conditions in Britain every week.


hope plans for the new law for routine heart screening of people at risk

will come into force." Mrs Linforth said yesterday. "It

could save a lot of lives and stop people going through the tragedy we

have seen."


Thompson said Long QT syndrome happens when there is an electrical

abnormality in the heart. It is only detectable by Electrocardiogram

(ECG) tests when people are alive. The condition is brought on by

vigorous exercise, stress and strong emotion or startling events which

make the heart beat abnormally fast or irregularly. The heart's

pumping action is interrupted, blood flow to the brain is cut off and the

person faints. In some cases – often on the first attack – the

victim dies.


to a third of sufferers never show any symptoms and may never know they

have it.


a verdict of death by natural causes, coroner Aidan Cotter said the

specific cause of Alison's death could not be identified.


added: "Alison had hardly sat down before she collapsed in the

college, so there was no question of horseplay or fooling around. Teachers thought she had a fainting fit and acted appropriately."


the hearing, Mrs Linforth said: "We just want some closure on

Alison's death and didn't want an open verdict. To lose a third

child was just devastating. It's incomprehensible how you cope with

these things.


are days when you feel you can't go on. Alison was such a bubbly,

happy young girl. She was always smiling and that is the way we try

to remember her."


husband added: "When Alison died, it was like living through the past

all over again and you do find yourself asking "what have we done to

deserve it?" But there are no answers to that. Alison's

death was a tragedy, just like the other two children we have lost."

Find out more about Long QT Syndrome