Tony Lee Atkins

tonyleeatkins3Tony had moderate learning difficulties all of his life and was classed as having special needs – although he had absolutely no trouble playing his Xbox. Tony was a great lover of gaming consoles.

It was Sunday 24th January; the day started like any other day, the only difference being we had a Christening to attend. Tony had been up most of the night playing games so we left him in bed.

Its quite spooky really because whilst at the Christening me and Mum had a conversation in which I said I wasn’t quite sure whether I actually believed in God. I told her I thought there was ‘something’ but I wasn’t sure what; and we both believed that there was a big black book with the date you would be born and how and when your death would occur.

I just didn’t expect Tony’s to be so soon.

We went shopping and as I dropped Mum home Tony was on the doorstep talking to his good friend Simon. When I suggested to Mum “Let’s go for dinner”, Mum called across “Get ready Tony, we’re going out to eat”. We all went for a lovely meal, Tony being his usual self and showing no signs of being unwell. In fact, he cleared his plate of every last scrap and even had pudding which was very unusual.

I dropped them home at around 6.45pm. Mum phone at about 7.10pm to tell me Tony had collapsed, but all I could hear were the paramedics in the background. I’ve never got down to Mum’s so quickly in my life. I took Shannon over to a neighbour’s because for some reason in my heart I knew it was serious. My biggest regret was telling Shannon he would be fine, so that I could peel her away from me and get across the road to Mum’s.

I got there just as they put the paddles on to try and revive him, along with numerous adrenaline shots. All I remember hearing and echoing through my body was the machine saying ‘no response, shock needed, resume CPR’. The medics worked their socks off but to no avail, he had already gone.

The drive to the hospital seemed to take an eternity – Mum in a separate ambulance because she wasn’t allowed to go in the one with Tony; and me in my car. Mum was the last to arrive – I think the driver was taking his time because he already knew nothing more could be done to save him. We were shown into the family room where the doctor told us that Tony had gone – our whole world sank. The post mortem results came back as ‘no obvious cause of death’ and that further testing was needed; so they retained his heart.

Tony’s funeral was held on 22nd February – almost a month after his death – and what a fantastic send off he had.

All tests were finally concluded in April, after which we had re-burial on 14th April to reunite him with his heart. He was now complete and could sleep peacefully. We still didn’t have any answers as to why Tony had died so suddenly and without any warning. We had to wait until 14th October to be told that Tony in fact had 3 holes in his heart. It was a miracle that he had survived for 30 years and never suffered any illnesses.

The hardest thing to accept is that he’s never coming home. It still hasn’t sunk in even now, and I’m not sure it ever will.

Donna Atkins