Local charity ‘The Joe Humphries Memorial Trust’ is holding a week of activity to raise awareness of Sudden Arrythmic Death Syndrome (SADS), which claims the lives of 12 young people every week.
The charity was set up by Steve Humphries after tragically losing his son Joe to SADS in October 2012. Joe who was just 14 when he collapsed and died while out running near his family home in Rothley, Leicestershire. Since then, his family and friends have worked tirelessly to campaign for a better understanding of sudden, unexpected death in young people, and have campaigned for compulsory CPR training in schools and defibrillators in schools, community venues and sports clubs.
The week long event is now in its second year, and runs from 4 – 11 October, with the theme ‘don’t be faint hearted’. Fainting without warning, in otherwise fit individuals, can be one of the symptoms of an unexplained heart condition such as SADS.
To further raise awareness of SADS, the charity has launched a poster campaign, alongside their social media campaign. The posters which will be displayed in GP surgeries, Schools, and public venues in the city and county, feature the words ‘dont be faint hearted’ with an image representing fainting on a hockey pitch.
Dr Ffion Davies, a member of the Trust and a consultant at the A&E in Leicester Royal Infirmary, said, “Why are we holding a SADS awareness week? Well, most people don’t think of teenagers and young adults dying of a heart condition, but the SAD fact is that it happens to 12 people a week in the UK.
“These types of heart conditions happen in healthy people and are different from heart disease associated with smoking, blood pressure and so on. This is called Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome.
“‘Arrhythmic’ means that the heart goes into an abnormal rhythm (beat) which can result in either a faint, or a full cardiac arrest.”
JHMT Chair and Joe’s dad Steve Humphries said: “Never again must we allow ‘silence’ to win the day, because every young heartbeat matters. We are fighting for all parents to have a choice and be better informed and prepared to guard against these subtle, undiagnosed heart conditions like SADS which can lead to the needless loss of innocent young life like Joe’s.”
Local rock band Kasabian have already backed the social media campaign after they tweeted, “We’re getting behind @JHMTorguk’s campaign to #breakthesilence on #SADS”
Joe loved photography and over the course of the SADS Awareness Week, a photography competition is being launched for the second year at his former school, De Lisle College in Loughborough. It will give pupils a chance to showcase their photographic skills while also raising awareness of SADS.
A SADS awareness conference for health professionals is also planned, on October 14, and the Trust will be busy throughout SADS Awareness Week with its work arranging for CPR training at local sports clubs, as well as supporting young people who want to fulfil their ambitions through its Inspire Awards grants programme.
Dr Mike Ferguson, Trust member and intensive care consultant, added: “If everyone in the UK was trained to do CPR (chest compressions), we could increase the survival rate to that seen in Sweden and some parts of the USA. If more places in the UK had automatic defibrillator machines in public places, we could also increase survival rates – these machines can save lives, if used within eight minutes of the cardiac arrest.”
Think heart! Learn CPR! Call 999 if you’re not sure – seconds count!
For more information about SADS Awareness Week and the work of the Trust, go to www JHMT.org.uk or facebook /JHMTorguk.
To show your support, simply tweet “I’m breaking the silence on SADS” to the official Twitter account, @JHMTorguk, using the hashtag #breakthesilence
Or tweet a selfie holding up the words “I’m breaking the silence on SADS #breakthesilence”