Family shock over young boy's death
As at least 12 young people die a week of sudden cardiac arrest, Natalie Walker speaks to one mum who lost her son just two days before Christmas.
When Yvonne Moss said goodnight to her 14-year-old son on December 22 last year, she never dreamt it would be the last time she would speak to him.
Everything was normal when Luke headed to bed.
He had shown no signs of being ill so when Yvonne went into his room the next morning, she was unprepared for the devastation that followed.
Luke’s death was explained as a Sudden Cardiac Death: an umbrella term used for the many different causes of cardiac arrest in young people.
Yvonne, of Walton-le-Dale, Preston, says: “Luke just passed away in his bed. We don’t know how it happened.
“The evening before he showed no signs of anything the matter with him. He was just sat with us watching TV on the sofa. He went to bed as normal, saying goodnight and ‘I love you.’
“I went into his room the next morning to wake him up for breakfast and he had passed away during the night.
“I was in disbelief. I was looking at my son dead in bed. It was just awful.”
As a post mortem could not show up any significant cause of death, Luke’s heart was assessed by Professor Mary Sheppard at St George’s Hospital in London, who specialises in sudden cardiac fatalities.
Tests confirmed the cause as a sudden cardiac death with a normal heart.
But his family are still as confused today as the day he died as to why and how this happened.
Yvonne, 45, says: “It is frightening. I have another son Lewis who is 18.
“After losing Luke, I go to bed wondering whether I’m going to find my other son dead in bed.
“For a long while after my husband Jeremy slept on Lewis’s bedroom floor to check he was okay. We were terrified.
“Lewis had an ECG at our doctors and it came back as being normal but we all still got referred onto Manchester Royal infirmary to a specialist cardiology genetic clinic for further tests. "We will get those results in December.
“This has obviously affected Lewis.
“They were very close - like best mates.
“Lewis misses Luke terribly. He spent a lot of time in his room and was a bit of an introvert. He seems a bit better now. But it will always affect him.”
Luke died on December 23 - two days before Christmas.
Yvonne says: “Christmas was put on a back burner for us. We were all in shock. The whole family pulled together. We had a lot of support from everyone. We could not have got through it without them.
Luke, a Lostock Hall Academy pupil, is described as being a “lovely boy” by his mum.
She adds: “Luke was happy-go-lucky and smiley. He was very funny and such a lovely boy.
“He loved computer games. He wanted to build his own computer which he had been learning at school. We had bought him his first ever gaming computer for Christmas.
“He also played football with his mates.
“We miss him terribly. I look back and can’t believe it has happened. Our lives have been totally shattered through losing Luke.”
Following Luke’s death, his family has been fund-raising for CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young), which raises awareness of the symptoms of cardiac abnormalities and conditions and holds ECG Testing and Cardiac Screening events.
They have arranged sponsored walks and climbed Mount Snowdon. Their latest fund-raiser was an 85 mile ride around Isle of Man.
Yvonne says: “We had never heard of CRY or the fact a 14-year-old boy could go to bed and suddenly die for no reason.
“We wanted to raise awareness about the condition and the testing procedure.
“Deaths from undiagnosed heart conditions are happening far too often.
“It is a tragedy when a young person passes away when they have their whole lives ahead of them.
“A simple ECG test could go towards helping detect those problems.
“I believe testing should take place at schools. We don’t want any other families to go through what we have been through.
“We have not been given a proper death diagnosis. Sudden cardiac death doesn’t mean anything. Luke was 14 and had nothing wrong with him.
“We will continue to fund-raise to keep Luke’s memory alive. We are in the process of setting up a charity for Luke and donate to other heart charities.”
To make a donation in memory of Luke visit http://m.virginmoneygiving.com/mt/uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/displaySomeoneSpecialPage.action?pageUrl=Lukemoss&un_jtt_redirectFor a related story on Heartfelt click here http://www.lep.co.uk/news/the-devastating-truth-about-young-sudden-cardiac-death-1-8234464