Heart test life-saver for teens

Life-saving heart tests are to be carried out in the Midlands for the first time by a pioneering charity in a battle to stop Sudden Death Syndrome striking down teenagers.

Campaign group Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) revealed it had raised enough cash to hold a day of free heart checks for the public to spot any defects early on.

The move is being led by Roy Ball, from Harborne, who watched his 16-year-old son Andrew collapse suddenly while playing football in a Sunday league game.

The soccer-mad Shenley Court School pupil died 25 years ago from the syndrome, also known as cardiomyopathy – which causes the heart to suddenly fail.

It often strikes down seemingly healthy youngsters in the prime of life.

Mr Ball, a 69-year-old retired Hackney carriage driver said: “CRY has finally raised the £3,500 needed to hold a heart testing day in the Midlands.

“We hope to do testing days twice a year in the hope of saving some young lives.

“This syndrome isn’t like cancer, there are no signs, until the victim suddenly collapses and dies.

“A post mortem showed my son had the heart of a 75-year-old even though he was a teenager. The only way of spotting it is on a heart scan. It is imperative to get tests done.”

The first test day, aimed at people aged between 12 and 35, will take place at Kingshurst Community Centre, off Meriden Drive, Kingshurst on September 16 between 9.30am and 5pm.

Heart specialists will test 150 people using an electrocardiogram or ECG machine to scan the heart for abnormalities, and refer anyone with problems to hospital.

A Government bill to carry out random tests on the public is still going through Parliament.

CRY was launched in May 1995 to raise awareness of the syndrome, to campaign for more heart screening and offer counselling to affected families.

To book a heart test at the event contact Jacqui Wilson on 0121 682 5850.

Tragic list of lives ended too soon

Sudden Death Syndrome claims eight young lives a week in the UK, and here are just some of the tragic victims:

Eamonn Chipperfield-Carr, aged 34, was found slumped at the wheel of his car days after playing 18 holes of golf in September 2000. A post mortem examination revealed Eamonn, who lived with his wife Julie in Wheelers Lane, Kings Heath, had a defective heart.

Teenager Alison Linforth, from Longbridge, died on her first day at Cadbury Sixth Form College from Sudden Death Syndrome. Parents John and Evelyn Linforth are campaigning for new regulations to provide regular checks on people whose relatives have died from rare heart problems.

Former Blue Coat school pupil Jennifer Pearce, aged 19, from Harborne, died suddenly in October 2003 while studying at Manchester University.

Paul Davies, aged 16, was certified dead at Birmingham’s Selly Oak Hospital in January 1999 after coming off his bike while cycling through the grounds of Earls High School, hear his Halesowen home.