Mother’s plea for heart screening in schools

ROUTINE screening should be introduced in schools to help diagnose hidden conditions, a mother whose son died of an undiagnosed heart condition has said, in the wake of an international footballer collapsing on the pitch during a Euro 2020 match at the weekend.

Christian Eriksen. Picture: PA (31056694)
Christian Eriksen. Picture: PA (31056694)

Gillian Warncken lost her only child, Jed Warncken, when he was 28 on 3 June 2019. An inquest at the time heard that he died of haemopericardium, a rupture of the aorta. Since then she has been coming to terms with his death and trying to raise awareness of aortic disease, undiagnosed heart-related conditions and other causes of sudden deaths in young people.

She said she had been watching a match where a Danish footballer suffered a cardiac arrest and wanted to highlight her own experience and raise awareness.

Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch on Saturday during a Euro 2020 match against Finland.

Danish team doctor Morten Boesen said the 29-year-old player had suffered a cardiac arrest during the game and had to be resuscitated. He was taken to hospital for treatment, where he is recovering.

Fans and players were left visibly distressed by the incident.

St John Ambulance Jersey is encouraging Islanders to take part in first-aid-training courses and said the events at the weekend affected more than just football fans.

‘I would like to see routine screening in schools to help diagnose conditions. Your whole world is turned upside down. My son was healthy, did not drink alcohol or smoke and had a good diet,’ she added, saying things had been ‘going really well’ for him at the time of his sudden death.

Ms Warncken said 3 June 2019 was ‘a day like no other’, and she was left devastated following her son’s death.

She said: ‘Jed was the most amazing, loving, helpful, protective, perfect son. We were very close and then one night my world turns upside down and he’s just simply gone, not here anymore. Never will I see that loving face, that smile, listen to his jokes, be able to touch or hug him ever again.’

Mrs Warncken asked people to support the Neil Hussey Heart Charity, for which she fundraises.

The organisation raises funds to support heart screening in Jersey to detect unknown heart conditions, especially in school-aged children.

The charity was established in 2018 following the sudden death of Mr Hussey, aged 40, from a heart condition of which he was unaware.

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