Sebastian English tragically collapsed and died aged 15 whilst playing rugby in 2004, 11 years after his father Howard died also playing rugby. Because the pathologist gave an incorrect cause of death for Howard’s death, the family were unaware that he carried a genetic cardiac condition.
Expert pathology is vital after a sudden cardiac death, to establish the cause of death and inform screening to identify family members who may be at risk.
In 2008, thanks to the extraordinary support of Sebastian’s family and friends who provided a grant in excess of £200,000, the CRY Centre for Cardiac Pathology was launched overseen by expert pathologist Professor Mary Sheppard. CRY funds the costs of coroners referrals to the Centre for Cardiac Pathology, and a full report is returned usually within 2 weeks. Previously families could have faced a wait of up to eighteen months to receive answers after their tragedy. It is now estimated that 80% of coroners refer to Professor Sheppard after a young sudden cardiac death.
As well as providing answers and helping to inform screening for the family, Professor Sheppard and her team at the CRY Centre for Cardiac Pathology carry out ongoing research to help us better understand and identify these conditions.
Over £500,000 has been raised in Sebastian’s memory and his memorial fund continues to support research and expert pathological investigations after a young sudden cardiac death at the CRY Centre for Cardiac Pathology, at St George’s Hospital.