Heartbroken Derby Mum Tells How Her Son, 17, Was Found Dead on His Bed - but He Leaves An Incredible Legacy
It will be a bittersweet moment for the family of tragic George Watson when 200 young people are screened for possible cardiac diseases over the weekend.
George, a former pupil at Littleover Community School, was found dead on his bed in 2015 by his father, Dave. It was particularly shocking for the family as the youngster seemed to be a normal healthy 17 year-old.
Following his death it was discovered the youngster a victim of hypersensitivity myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart. But “extensive and exhaustive tests” were not able to tell George’s distraught family exactly how he came to have the condition.
After the inquest into George’s unexpected death, his family vowed to raise enough money to be able set up screening for people aged 14-35 in the Littleover area - to help detect potential heart defects in other youngsters.
Just over three years since he died, George’s memorial fund now stands at £30,000 which is enough to pay for this weekend’s screening with consultant cardiologists and for another similar session in the next few months.
Mum, Marie Watson said: “You never want or dream you will be in the situation of losing a teenage son. But in the aftermath of losing George we needed to find something that would help us to bring light out of the dark we found ourselves in.
“We decided to set up a memorial fund and held, or took part in various events, which brought the money.
“Two friends had screening and found they had heart defects and we realised there was still something we could do to create a legacy for George.
“I had looked after him all of his life and in a way I feel as if I am carrying on doing it by raising money and awareness in his name. I am still his mum no matter what and I would do anything to stop anyone else having to go through this.”
The Wonky Table Restaurant in Sadler Gate, where George had a part-time job in between studying A-levels at the Joseph Wright Centre, held a fund-raising night, the family and about 40 friends ran in the 2016 Derby 10k race and a music night took place.
Mrs Watson said: “It is a bittersweet moment but I am so proud of the support we have had from friends and family to raise the money that will make the screening worthwhile and maybe save lives.
“George’s friends have come forward to be screened and our other two children – Scarlett, 14 and Billy, 16 – will also be tested.
“I suppose there is a sense of fulfilment that we have raised the money to do this and we are pleased to have linked up with the charity CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young).
Professor Sanjay Sharma, consultant cardiologist for CRY, said: "A hundred young people will be tested each day at the school tomorrow and Sunday and initially they will be given a health questionnaire, which asks about the symptoms of cardiac diseases such as chest pain, breathlessness, dizziness, palpitations or black outs and about family history of cardiac conditions.
"This is usually followed by a 12 lead ECG which is an electrical tracing of the heart that is designed to look for electrical faults of the heart.
"In many situations, the individual can be reassured on the spot and a small number would need further tests. Of these 4%, 0.2% have a serious problem, about 1% have a minor problem and the other 2.8% can be reassured."
Mrs Watson said: “It’s difficult to know if George’s condition would have been picked up but I do know that outwardly there was nothing wrong with him. Hopefully, the screening will pick up anyone who has a potential problem and this will make a real difference.
“CRY gave us tremendous bereavement support, which you need in the face of such a shock. George was a good lad, with a great sense of fun, and I feel he would have been proud to see what is being achieved in his name.”
Littleover school head teacher Ash Venkatesh said he welcomed the screening sessions being held at the school. He added: "George was a well-loved student here and I know how much his parents wanted to ensure that pupils at our school had the opportunity to be screened."
Every week, 12 apparently fit and healthy young people lose their lives to sudden cardiac death in the UK. A staggering 80% of these apparently healthy young people who die from young sudden cardiac death will have shown no previous sign of illness, CRY now tests around 27,000 young people each year.
Although screening will not identify all those at risk, in Italy, where screening is mandatory for all young people engaged in organised sport, the incidence of young sudden cardiac death has decreased by 90%.
A second screening is taking place in the city this weekend at Unite, Pride Point Drive in Pride Park in memory of Daniel Hughes, who died in his sleep from a previously undiagnosed heart condition, also in 2015, aged 28. Since his death, 806 young people have been screened as a result of the fund-raising carried out in memory of Daniel.
Overall, the total funds raised in Daniel’s memory now exceed over £120,000 and thanks to a £30,000 pledge from three local branches of Unite Union, more screenings will take place in Daniel’s name.
Both the Littleover school and Unite screenings are fully booked for this weekend but for more information about future screenings, fundraising or CRY access https://testmyheart.org.uk/
Story Credit: https://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/news/derby-news/hypersensitivity-myocarditis-george-watson-derby-1251796