Cardiac Risk in the Young Lifeline


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Cardiac Risk in the Young

Singer Pixie Lott presents an appeal on behalf of Cardiac Risk in the Young, a charity devoted to supporting families following a cardiac bereavement.


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I always knew I wanted to be on stage.

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But I couldn't have done it without certain special people

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who inspired me and helped show the way.

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One of those people was Matt Beadle.

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He was my dance teacher when I was at stage school.

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He had a successful career in West End musicals

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and was someone I really looked up to.

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But mostly, I remember his massive smile.

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As a dancer, Matt was incredibly fit and seemed to be

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in perfect health.

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So, when I got the call to say that he'd dropped dead

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from a cardiac arrest, I was in shock.

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I couldn't believe that something like that could happen

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to someone so young.

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But the really shocking thing is just how many

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apparently healthy young people die from sudden cardiac arrest

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each year.

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In fact, it happened to someone else I know.

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Also, out of the blue.

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He was my big sister's friend and his name was Adam Donnelly.

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Adam was really active. He swam, played football, played rugby.

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He was just a typical, healthy, fit teenager.

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He loved to be my big brother.

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We always seemed to be getting in trouble for one thing or another

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which was normally his idea.

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He was always looking out for me and making sure that I was OK.

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When Adam was 17, the family went on holiday to Cyprus with friends.

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One day, everyone went to the beach while Adam decided to stay behind

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to swim in the hotel pool.

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We were snorkelling. We saw a friend running down

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and he said that there'd been an accident.

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I just knew that something bad had happened.

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Adam was found floating in the pool.

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He was rushed to hospital, but his heart had stopped

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and doctors couldn't revive him.

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I remember a doctor said that Adam was dead on arrival at hospital.

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And I remember hearing an awful noise.

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And the doctor got up and shut the door

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and I realised it was me making that noise.

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Oh, sorry.

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I couldn't believe that...

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a 17-year-old could die of a cardiac arrest

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with no warning.

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I don't think you ever get over losing a brother or a son.

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You learn to live with it.

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You learn a new normal. So, what was normal before,

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that will never be the same.

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I remember the impact that Adam's death had on my sister.

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And I still can't quite believe that 12 young people each week

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die of undiagnosed heart conditions.

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And that's why I support Cardiac Risk In The Young,

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or CRY.

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It's the only charity devoted exclusively to supporting families

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following a sudden cardiac bereavement

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and working with the best medics and researchers in the world

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to prevent such deaths wherever possible.

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That was Ann's 40th, so that was the April before Adam died.

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Adam's family found it hard to grieve

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without a real understanding of why they had lost him so unexpectedly.

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Had Adam died in a road accident, you'd almost have somebody to blame

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or a reason for it.

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But the way he died, I just couldn't understand it.

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It was just... I needed to know...

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why it had happened.

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Adam's mother turned to CRY for help.

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They suggested testing the rest of the family for heart problems

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at their specialist clinic.

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The results were revealing.

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Julie was diagnosed with an inherited condition

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called Brugada syndrome, which can trigger cardiac arrest.

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In one way, it was a relief because we then had a name

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for what had killed Adam. We had an answer.

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But then it opened up a whole lot of other questions as well

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because if I'd passed it onto one of my children,

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the likelihood was that I'd passed it onto both of them.

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Tests confirmed that Sian also had Brugada syndrome.

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But the good news was that doctors could offer her a treatment -

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an operation to fit a device called an ICD

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to regulate her heart and prevent a cardiac arrest.

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I've had three episodes where my ICD has worked

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and brought it back to a normal rhythm.

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It's massively reassuring.

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Being diagnosed has saved my life, 100%.

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It's a reminder of how important CRY's work is.

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If we hadn't been screened as a family,

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I could have lost two children.

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That doesn't bear thinking about.

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Sian's heart condition was picked up because of the tragic death

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of her brother.

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But CRY's focus is to identify life-threatening heart conditions

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before anyone dies.

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The reason why there are over 600 sudden deaths each year

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is because young people who are fit and well are not routinely tested

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for heart conditions.

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So, CRY believe that a screening programme for everyone

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is the best way to save lives.

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Professor Sanjay Sharma is CRY's head of screening and research.

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The National Health Service has not promoted

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or sponsored any form of screening in the young,

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and that's where CRY comes in.

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CRY's the largest screening organisation in the United Kingdom

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for the young.

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Over the years, CRY has raised millions for medical research,

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developing effective methods for screening

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and identifying young people at risk.

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I have little doubt that the money that CRY has spent

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in detecting and diagnosing young people,

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who have serious cardiac conditions,

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has gone a long way in preventing death

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and in gaining numerous decades of life for young people.

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As a teenager, my main love was football.

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I was actually the record goal scorer for my school.

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James Bailey thought he had nothing to worry about

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when his school played host to one of CRY's mass screenings.

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One after one came out and everyone was fine

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and it was my turn and then I had the test

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and they broke the news to me that there was something wrong.

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The doctor told James that he had Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome -

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a potentially lethal heart condition -

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and he'd have to stop playing sport immediately.

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My first concern was that I had a football match that afternoon

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and then when the news properly sunk in, I realised

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the significance and the seriousness of the issue.

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It's extremely scary as a 17-year-old who had

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no idea that he had this problem.

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Suddenly, you're faced with...

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death.

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James had further screening and was approved for an operation

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that held out the promise of a complete cure.

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So, after the operation, I was back on the football field

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playing again like nothing had ever been wrong.

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To be free again and not have any of these worries,

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just go back to normal life, put all this behind me

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was fantastic.

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And that was all thanks to being diagnosed.

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So, obviously, I owe my life to CRY.

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But for Adam's sister, the pain of losing him is still there

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11 years on.

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How do you think you and your family would have coped without CRY

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being there?

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The work they do, it's priceless. I mean, if their screening

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stops one other family going through what we've gone through then

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I think they've done their job.

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I wouldn't wish what we've gone through on anyone.

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So, being able to raise money and do those screening programmes,

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it's vital to save lives.

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Last year, over 23,000 young people were screened by CRY.

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It's a completely free service that no-one else offers.

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But CRY rely completely on the generosity of its supporters

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to fund its work.

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CRY's ambition is for every young person to get the chance

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to be tested

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to prevent more tragic deaths,

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like Adam's

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or my teacher, Matt.

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This will only be possible with your help,

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so please give what you can today.

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To donate, go the website...

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To give by phone, call 0800 011 011.

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Calls are free from mobiles

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and landlines.

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You can also donate £10

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by texting...

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Texts cost £10, plus your

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standard network message charge.

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And the whole £10 goes to CRY.

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Full terms and conditions

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can be found at bbc.co.uk/lifeline.

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Or if you'd like to post a donation,

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please make your cheque payable

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to CRY and send it to...

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..writing CRY on the back

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of the envelope.

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And if you want the charity to claim

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Gift Aid on your donation,

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please include an e-mail

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or postal address, so that they can

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send you a Gift Aid form.

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Thank you.

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Singer Pixie Lott presents an appeal on behalf of Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), a charity devoted to supporting families following a sudden cardiac bereavement, and working with the best medics and researchers in the world to prevent such deaths wherever possible. It's a cause close to Pixie's heart as her childhood dance teacher Matt Beadle died following a cardiac arrest.

The film also features the story of Adam Donnelly, a close friend of Pixie's sister, who died suddenly when he was 17. Adam's mother and sister talk about how CRY came to their aid in the wake of his death, and how the charity helped provide an answer to why they lost Adam so unexpectedly. CRY screened the rest of the family for heart conditions, and discovered that Adam's sister Sian also had an inherited heart condition.

CRY's ambition is for every young person to be screened for life-threatening heart conditions, so that as many as possible of the 600 young people who die each year of sudden cardiac problems can be saved.