Healthy 15-Year-Old Dies After Cardiac Arrest at Auckland's Armageddon Expo

Alex Haselden

Alex Haselden, 15, suffered a sudden cardiac arrest while at Auckland's Armageddon Expo. Photo courtesy: Joanne Haselden

A teenager has died after suffering a massive cardiac arrest while on a day out at a pop culture convention.

Alex Haselden collapsed after telling friends he felt dizzy at the Armageddon Expo, held at Auckland's ASB Showgrounds.

He was only 15 years old when he died on Halloween, after a week of being on life support in hospital.

As far as his mum Joanne Haselden knew, the Orewa College student had no underlying conditions that could have caused his death and medical staff are still investigating why the teen died.

“The cardiac arrest left him in a coma with suspected brain damage due to a lack of oxygen. After a week, doctors realised there was no chance of recovery, so his life support was turned off,” Haselden said.

Labour Weekend had started well for the Haselden family – Alex and his friends were dropped off at the Armageddon Expo, an event they attended each year.


Alex Haselden has been remembered as “very gentle, kind and a champion for anyone who was different or bullied” Photo Courtesy: Joanne Haselden

“I drove them all there,” Haselden said. “It was an early start and on the way we stopped at Little Manly beach to see some dolphins.”

Haselden said that when they arrived at the expo she went to the cafe and left the group of friends to explore by themselves.

“They went off to have fun, and about half an hour later one of Alex's friends called me and said something had happened and they needed me.

“It took me about five minutes to find them and when I did paramedics were just arriving.

“He had been on a ride with his friends and when he got off and started walking, he told them he felt dizzy and then he just dropped to the floor.

“It is hard to get my head around still. He was due to start his first NCEA exams this month, and he had been looking forward to the summer and going camping with friends.”

An Armageddon Expo spokeswoman confirmed she was aware of the incident happening and on-site medical emergency staff attended the incident immediately.

Doctors later told Haselden that Alex had suffered what is known as sudden cardiac death, which was relatively rare in young people.

Paramedics at the scene managed to resuscitate Alex, and he was taken to hospital and put into an induced coma.

“His brain had been deprived of oxygen for too long,” Haselden said, “after six days they told us they were turning off his life support.”

Haselden said if first aid knowledge was more widely known Alex might still be alive.

“When he fell down his friends and the adults around him thought that he had fainted, so they put him into the recovery position and waited for paramedics.

“This meant for about 10 minutes he was without oxygen – he needed CPR administered straight away.”

The Heart Foundation recommends on its website that anyone who witnesses a cardiac arrest should call 111, start administering CPR or use an automated external defibrillator (AED).

“Unless action is taken within minutes, cardiac arrest will be fatal,” the foundation says.

”CPR is a combination of rescue breathing and chest compressions. It provides oxygen to the lungs and keeps oxygenated blood circulating until an effective heartbeat and breathing can be restored. By knowing and performing CPR, you may save a life.”

Haselden said she would like to see first aid courses implemented more widely in schools and the community in the hopes it could save the life of someone else.

“I am pleased he was with his friends and having a great day when it happened. He was a very private young man but he had a very close-knit group of friends.

“Alex was very gentle, kind and a champion for anyone who was different or bullied. He loved gaming and Armageddon.”

Doctors had told Haselden they might never know what caused Alex to go into cardiac arrest but as it was still being investigated it could be congenital.

“They have completed a partial post-mortem of his heart and are monitoring his younger sister Maddie and me. As there were no symptoms of illness, doctors think it could be a dormant congenital heart condition.”

The Haselden family is no stranger to tragedy, over the past two years Haselden has been recovering from breast cancer.

Haselden was a teacher at Orewa College, where Alex attended, but had taken two years off while undergoing chemotherapy.

“Things were just getting better for our small family of three and I was preparing to return to teaching next year when this happened.

Orewa College

Alex Haselden was close to finishing year 11 at Orewa College. Photo Courtesy: stuff

“This has broken our hearts.”

A Givealittle page has been set up by a family friend to help cover the costs of Alex’s funeral, as well as cover managed isolation costs for his grandparents to come over from the United Kingdom.

Haselden said she wanted to thank the Hibiscus Coast community, Orewa College and Alex’s friends for the love and kindness they had shown the family.

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