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Thousands reach out for help after ‘brave’ teenager’s ‘inspiring’ documentary

THE BBC documentary that followed Frome teenager Patrick Mead as he  learnt more about sudden adult death syndrome (SADS), has inspired thousands to reach out for more information and help.

‘Sudden Death: My Sister’s Silent Killer’ shared the story of Patrick, who is learning to live with his grief for his sister, Lauren, who died suddenly in her sleep in 2019 at the age of 19 – her death was registered as SADS, which is caused by genetic heart conditions.

Two national charities, Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) and SADS UK, have praised the bravery and courage of 19-year old Patrick for sharing his story in the documentary that they say has raised a “huge amount” of awareness.

Following the broadcast of the documentary in mid-April, CRY experienced an “immediate spike” in requests for cardiac screenings. And during April, over 3,000 emails and enquiries were received for registrations for the free screenings provided across the UK by the charity.

CRY also reported that its bereavement support team received the highest number of ‘first contact calls’ from families affected by a young sudden cardiac death. SADS UK also reported numerous messages from many new families and individuals looking for support and information, as well as requests for support from families known to them.

Patrick and his parents, Adrian and Maria, who also featured in the documentary, also received hundreds of messages of support and thanks.

“As a family we are so grateful to Storyvault films and the BBC for giving an opportunity to do something positive for the greater good after tragically losing Lauren to SADS,” Lauren and Patrick’s dad, Adrian, told Frome Times on behalf of the family. 

“We feel that Patrick was not just a voice for Lauren, but a voice for the 12 young lives lost every week. 

“Patrick was able to ask questions and get some answers and in turn help him through his journey of grief which also helped his family. 

“The family between us have received hundreds of messages of support and thanks for sharing our story and raising awareness of SADS. Many of the messages have come from people we have never met.

“We hope that the documentary paves the way forward for more screening and will go a long way to help reduce the 12 young lives lost each week. Thank you to everyone for their continued support.”

CRY’s chief executive, Dr Steven Cox, told Frome Times, “There is little doubt about the impact of this film and the lasting effect of Patrick’s bravery on viewers of all ages.

“As a charity, we are dedicated to providing a national screening programme to identify the hidden heart conditions that can cause these devastating deaths as well as a unique bereavement support network for families (whether parents, partners, siblings or close friends) who have been affected by the tragic loss of a young person.

“From 11pm on the night of the broadcast, we noticed an immediate spike in requests for screening. 

“And, recent analysis has shown that during April over 3,000 emails and enquiries were received for registrations for free screenings provided across the UK by CRY.

“Our bereavement support team has reported the highest number of ‘first contact calls’ (that is, families who reach out to us for the first time, since the devastation of a young sudden cardiac death). 

“Many commented that they hadn’t heard of CRY until they saw the documentary and it is reassuring they are now able to receive support from CRY.

“We also received many private messages from families and supporters saying how moved they had been by the documentary – as well as over 300 public comments on CRY’s Facebook page.

“Due to government lockdowns and social distancing measures, CRY has had to cancel well over 32,000 screening appointments in the past 12 months. 

“That includes screenings due to be held in Frome, funded by local mum Shirley Wort, who has been a loyal and tireless fundraiser for CRY since the sudden death of her son Julian in March 2000. He was aged just 28.

“CRY research and international statistics suggest this will have resulted in over 100 asymptomatic young people NOT receiving a diagnosis of a potentially life-threatening condition and the treatment, lifestyle advice or surgery that would reduce their risk of suffering a cardiac arrest. 

“However, the good news is that as lockdown eases, we are now due to resume our world-renowned screening programme. We have worked so hard to ensure our screening team is appropriately prepared [in terms of PPE], with revised protocols in place [in terms of social distancing and enhanced cleaning] and are ready to get back on the road.

“We are doing all we can to rebook events and work through our ‘backlog’ – and to ensure that awareness of the importance of cardiac screening in young people does not diminish.

“And we’d like to thank Patrick again for agreeing to share his experience and to speak so courageously and honestly about the impact on a family and local community of a young sudden cardiac death. It has clearly raised a huge amount of awareness.”

Founder of SADS UK, Anne Jolly MBE, told Frome Times, “SADS UK supports many families and individuals following a sudden and unexpected premature death of a loved one.  

“Since the documentary aired we have received numerous messages from existing bereaved members who empathised with the journey of grief that the Mead family are experiencing.  

“We have also been contacted by many new families and individuals looking for support and information. 

“We praise Patrick for his bravery and honesty in speaking so openly about his feelings since the sudden and tragic death of his sister Lauren.  

“The Mead family and many of Lauren’s family and friends continue to support SADS UK and we thank them for helping to raise awareness and funds for SADS UK in memory of Lauren.”

For more information about CRY, visit their website: www.c-r-y.org.uk

For more information about SADS UK, visit the website: www.sadsuk.org.uk

‘Sudden Death: My Sister’s Silent Killer’ is available on the BBC’s online catch-up service, iPlayer: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p09c54gg

 

One Response to Thousands reach out for help after ‘brave’ teenager’s ‘inspiring’ documentary

  1. Jane Davies

    May 29, 2021 at 11:51 am

    We lost our Son Joel in 2005. He died suddenly in his sleep with no cause found. He was 23. Since then almost 10,000 young people have died in the same way. It devastates the whole family and friend group of the individual who dies. The shock reverberates for years in waves and life is never the same for many. These 10,000 deaths affects 100,000s of people. Patrick you are a wonderful young man. Thank you for highlighting this terrible thing.

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