Our hopes for the all-clear

Organiser of a heart-screening session in memory of a tragic teenager hope to draw a complete blank at the emotional event on Teesside.

Last time around, a similar session, organised by Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) supporters Maralyn and Kenny Bowen, turned up nothing untoward from the 38 young people screened.

And that’s just how the Bowens, of Buckingham Road, Redcar, like it.

They know only too well the pain of losing someone unexpectedly from a hidden heart condition, after son Ian, 19, died from Wolffe-Parkinson-White Syndrome – an electrical connection in the heart – in 1996.

So if the screening at Redcar’s United Reformed Church Hall on February 25 detects no possible heart problems, they’ll be happy that others are spared the despair they once faced.

But even if potential problems are traced, at least it means something can be done about it before it’s too late.

Since 2000, they have organised four heart screening for people aged 14 – 35, with each of the first three uncovering potential problems in three youngsters.

But last time, the all-clear was sounded – and the Bowens will be happy with the same this time.

Maralyn, a CRY counsellor, said: “As a mother that has lost a child, I think every child should be screened before they eave school. This is our way of offering something our Ian didn’t get a chance of.

“It’s a double-edged sword. It’s good to have nothing show up, but if people come and don’t know they have a problem, it’s giving them the chance to do something about it. Either way, it’s money well spent.”

Every week, eight apparently fit and healthy young people die in the UK from undiagnosed heart conditions.

The Redcar screening, supervised by Professor Bill McKenna of the London Heart Hospital and funded by £6,600 from a fund set up in Ian’s name, are strictly appointment only.

Maralyn says that anyone whose youngsters play a lot of sport, or where there has been a sudden young death in the family, should seriously consider being screened.

“We do this because we don’t want to think Ian died in vain,” added Maralyn who, with Kenny, has raised £38,000 for Ian’s fund since his death.

To book one of the 38 screening places, or for more details, call 01642 478575.