Mother calls for action after son suffered sudden cardiac death
A mother has spoken about her concerns over the importance of cardiac screening for adults after her son suffered a sudden cardiac death.
Darren Clark, 27, of Normanby Road, Scunthorpe, died during a game at Paintball Challenge in Messingham on September 11 last year.
An inquest held at the Civic Centre, Scunthorpe, resulted in Coroner Paul Kelly recording a verdict of "death by natural causes" and a post-mortem read out confirmed Darren unknowingly suffered from Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome – a heart condition which can lead to episodes of rapid heart rate.
His family and friends are still coming to terms with his life being suddenly cut short and despite Darren having had plenty of hospital checks throughout his life, these had failed to detect the condition.
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Darren's parent's Steve and Debbie Clark, of Burton- Upon-Stather, want to raise awareness into the condition and have backed a national campaign to urge the Government to change its policy on cardiac screening by offering it to young people.
Debbie said: "All screening sessions are now full through the Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) charity for the year and money is needed to provide more as it is so important for young people to get the vital screening to hopefully save lives.
"When Darren was 17 he started experiencing numerous heart palpitations which meant he had to keep going to hospital but nothing life threatening was picked up.
"So when we received the horrendous news Darren had passed away it was quite unbelievable – we were all numb with shock. I thought the inquest would answer all our questions and tell us information we did not already know, but this was not the case.
"I still have many unanswered questions about Darren's death and I am still finding it hard to take it all in."
Debbie said Darren had learnt to control the palpitations and enjoyed outdoor pursuits, adventure seeking, sky diving and motorcycles.
"We miss Darren every day and are still trying to come to terms with it. It has turned our lives upside down and every day is a struggle" she added.
The inquest heard results from a post-mortem examination carried out by Doctor Lorraine Sheehan at Lincoln County Hospital. It revealed no major abnormalities internally or externally.
It was only when Dr Sheehan forwarded Darren's heart to the Royal Brompton Hospital in London that Dr Mary Sheppard confirmed Darren had Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome.
News of sudden collapse conditions have hit the national headlines in recent weeks, none more unexpected than that of a Bolton Wanderer's midfielder who collapsed during a football match against Tottenham Hotspur.
Debbie said: "The recent news about the sudden collapse of Bolton's Fabrice Muamba has brought awareness to the situation.
"Fabrice was in the same situation as Darren but he was fortunate enough to have expert care straight away, which Darren did not. It is good there has been an increase in screening but sudden cardiac death does not just happen to young athletes.
"At a recent CRY support day I went to there were 20 mothers there who had lost their children and only one was an athlete."
Dr Sheehan told the inquest: "Paint balling is quite an active and aggressive game where a lot of energy is released.
"The game would excite the heart and release a lot of chemicals into the blood stream.
"My suggestion is this could have caused his death.
"A lot of sportsmen have also experienced this and fit and healthy young people die suddenly each year from undiagnosed heart conditions."
Darren's sister Vicki, along with help from family and friends, has since organised numerous events in order to raise money for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).