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Schoolboy's Life Saved Ten Times by His Defibrillator

Schoolboy's life saved ten times by his defibrillator

Owen Steatham and his dad David

A schoolboy who suffered a cardiac arrest on his way home from school has had his life saved ten times by his implanted defibrillator.

Owen Steatham, from Oldbury, was just nine when he collapsed after classes in January 2014.

A passerby performed CPR before paramedics arrived and saved his life with a defibrillator.

Tests revealed Owen, now 13, was living with the inherited heart condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

He was fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, which sends electrical pulses to regulate abnormal heart rhythms.

His dad David 37, said it had shocked the teenager’s heart ten times since his diagnosis.

He said: “His ICD has delivered a shock to his heart after it went into a dangerous rhythm.

“Without the diagnosis and ICD he might not be alive today. Owen has also had ten shocks from his ICD since his diagnosis, which has literally saved his life.

“I am so incredibly grateful to the genetic testing service. No-one should have to go through what Owen went through.”

David and his younger son Riley, seven, were found to carry the faulty gene which causes the condition after testing.

They are now being monitored.

David revealed his uncle had also been fitted with an ICD.

He said: “We know that genetic testing has saved lives in our family. My uncle was diagnosed with the condition after Owen’s diagnosis, which led to him having an ICD fitted.”

The British Heart Foundation has launched a campaign, In Your Genes, which aims to raise awareness of inherited heart conditions and highlight the urgent need for better diagnosis.

Many people with deadly inherited heart conditions are only diagnosed after a cardiac arrest, research has shown.

One in five of those with such a condition only finds out after the death of someone in their family, the BHF said.

The charity estimates that around 620,000 people in the UK have a faulty gene which puts them at a particularly high risk of developing heart disease or dying suddenly at a young age.

Each child of someone with an inherited heart condition has a 50 per cent chance of inheriting the same faulty gene – but the majority of people remain undiagnosed.

It is also estimated that at least 12 young people, defined as aged under 35, die from an undiagnosed heart condition every week in the UK.

BHF is urging people to speak to their family about any early sudden deaths or premature heart disease in the family, which might have been caused by an inherited heart condition.

Once someone has been diagnosed with an inherited heart condition, genetic testing should be carried out on all first-degree relatives, a process called cascade testing.

BHF medical director Prof Sir Nilesh Samani said: “It is extremely important that family members are offered genetic testing when there’s a history of sudden death or premature heart disease in a family.

“Once diagnosed, many of these conditions are manageable with medication or ICDs and can prevent needless deaths.

“All too often, people aren’t familiar with their family history, or they aren’t aware that a sudden death might be linked to an underlying heart condition.

“We need to improve awareness of these conditions, and ensure that people have equal access to cascade genetic testing across the UK.” Anyone with a history of unexplained sudden deaths in their family should speak to their GP, or call the BHF Genetic Information Service on 0300 456 8383.

Story Credit: https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/schoolboys-life-saved-ten-times-14389820