On the evening of the 13th December 2005, my 16 year old son David returned home from a kick boxing session. He was his usual self apart from the fact that he told me his heart was racing.
I suggested that he had overdone it and his heart rate was just taking a while to get back to normal. He showered and ate then later went to bed.
Little did I know that that would be the last time I would see him alive.
My daughter Lisa found him in the morning curled up as if asleep. She initially thought he was messing around (something that he would have probably done) but when he did not wake, she phoned 999 and performed resuscitation with the support of the operator, but it was too late.
When I arrived home from work I could not believe what I was walking into. There were several policeman and plain-clothed detectives and two paramedics, it was like a crime scene.
I was not allowed into my son’s room until it had been searched and a forensic investigation took place, this was a number of hours. Eventually I was allowed in to see my beautiful boy, still wrapped up in his quilt on the floor of his bedroom. I cannot describe how I felt.
What followed was the most awful ordeal. David had to have a post mortem from which nothing was found. We were then told his heart had to be taken to the Brompton Hospital for further analysis.
We were first told that we had a choice as to whether to allow this to happen as it was likely that his heart would not be back with him in time for his cremation and we would have to have a separate service.
I discussed this with my family and we all agreed that we did not want him to be cremated without his heart. However when I called back and said this, I was told that I did not have a choice and the individual who told me this had made a mistake.
Subsequently David’s heart went off to Brompton for further analysis. This all seemed unreal to me that a few days before my son was so full of life – now I was talking to someone about his heart being taken from his body with such insensitivity.
We were all devastated and the pain that the whole family were experiencing was unbelievable.
This was all going on over the Christmas period, so it was a slow process and the waiting was unbearable.
We did eventually get a report back, which showed nothing significant, and the only thing was a very slight thickening of the left ventricle, which we were told was not uncommon in fit youngsters.
David was cremated on the 29th December 2005 with his heart intact thanks to the detective who collected it for me in his own time, for which I am eternally grateful.
We eventually had to go to a court inquest hearing where David’s case was discussed in heart-rending detail.
We were eventually told that David’s death would be recorded as Natural Causes with (Sudden Cardiac Death) in brackets. This was yet again another huge disappointment, as we still do not know why he died.
Over the months my daughter and I have gone for screening and nothing has been detected in our genes.
I would not wish for anyone to go through what I have gone through and am still going through and I sincerely hope that one day there will be screening available as a matter of course so that these devastating young deaths can be prevented.