Free Heart Screening in Memory of Oliver Thompson: November 2014
When Cliftonville Primary School teaching assistant Ollie Thompson died suddenly colleagues vowed to work with his family to support the Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) charity. A variety of fund raising events in memory of the 29 year old have included the CRY Heart of London Bridges Walk, sponsored events, a festive panto, and non-uniform days.
Funds raised so far include £3,500 which enabled which enabled a cardiac screening day to be held at the school for 100 people free. It was conducted by medical professionals headed by Consultant Cardiologist Rajay Narain. The fully-booked screening saw young people aged between 14-35 (CRY’s target age range) discuss their health history including any heriditary heart conditions in their families with the team before having a simple Electrocardiogram (ECG), which looks at the electrical conduction pathways around the heart.
In some cases it may be followed by an Echocardiogram ultrasound test that looks at the structure of the heart.
Specialist advice is then given, although CRY stress that although the majority of screenings are clear, around one in 300 screenings requiring further investigation.
Dr Narain said: “These screenings identify most cardiac abnormalities which is extremely important as at least 12 young people die suddenly each week in the UK of previously undetected heart problems. The age range of 14-35 is critical because it is when young people engage in sporting activities which can put stress on the heart muscle which enlarges and which consequently has less space to function properly. If there are any heart conditions that are undetected such stress can kill very suddenly. CRY is a vital charity – there is no screening like this on the NHS. It is doing a fantastic job by funding the £35 per screening so that people who may be at risk get checked for free. Community involvement is important in enabling screening sessions, such as the one enabled by Ollie’s family and Cliftonville Primary School. It saves lives.”
Sam Taylor, 22, was one of the young people who signed up for the local screening. The student, who lives in Cliftonville, said: “I think the screening is a brilliant opportunity to get checked over for heart health. I just wanted to support the research that is being carried out through CRY.”
Ollie’s family travelled from Devon to support the screening at Cliftonville Primary. His mum Cheryle said the death of Ollie 16 months ago was a terrible unexpected shock. She said: “He was very fit, he didn’t drink or smoke. He had soccer trials with Anderlecht in Belgium and played semi-professionally for Tamworth in the Blue Square League. We are supporting CRY in memory of Ollie. He was taken from us so early and a simple test could save a life, which is what CRY is all about.” His dad Graham added: “The test is painless, not invasive and takes a few minutes. The support from Cliftonville Primary School has been fantastic and it is brilliant that we can offer free testing for 100 local people.”
Head teacher Jane Troth said: “Ollie was a friend and colleague and we wanted to do everything we could in his memory so another young person didn’t die suddenly for the sake of a test.”
Fund raising continues at the school with a production of Aladdin at the school on December 17 and 18.