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A gentle giant who died jogging: Healthy 6ft 3in schoolboy, 14, collapsed yards from his home while training for charity run
21:00 GMT, 27 April 2013
22:08 GMT, 27 April 2013
'title': 'A gentle giant who died jogging: Healthy 6ft 3in schoolboy, 14, collapsed yards from his home while training for charity run',
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Tragedy: Joe Humphries, 14, died of Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS) while out jogging
Like millions of others, schoolboy Joe Humphries watched TV in horror when Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapsed after suffering a cardiac arrest during a cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur last year.
Less than seven months later, 14-year-old Joe also suffered a cardiac arrest while out running near his home in Rothley, Leicestershire.
Unlike for Fabrice, there was no heart specialist nearby who could dash to his rescue.
Though passers-by fought hard to save his life and paramedics arrived within minutes of a 999 call, Joe was pronounced dead that night at Leicester Royal Infirmary.
His parents, Angela and Steve, were later told that their fit, healthy son – already a strapping 6ft 3in ‘gentle giant’ – had died from Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome.
One of the first to hear the news was former England rugby captain and coach Martin Johnson, who has known Steve for 20 years. Johnson was so shaken by the tragedy that he agreed to become a patron of the Joe Humphries Memorial Trust, which was launched last month by Steve, Angela and a group of friends.
Its purpose is to help raise awareness of the risk factors associated with SADS, and highlight how lives can be saved if someone does collapse, as Joe did on October 4 last year.
‘Joe came home from school, had his tea, then went out at 6.30pm for a jog with his friend Meg, with whom he was doing a charity run the following weekend,’ says Angela, a biomedical scientist at Leicester Royal Infirmary.
‘I’d just got back from the supermarket when a neighbour knocked on the door and said something had happened. Steve ran down the road and as I stood at the front door I heard an ambulance – Steve missed it by minutes as it sped off with Joe in the back.
‘When we got to the hospital, they were still working on Joe. We weren’t allowed to see him until it was all over.’
Johnson says: ‘People are told SADS is rare, but it’s not that rare if
it’s happening to more than 600 people a year, is it’
Support: Ex England Rugby captain Martin Johnson, pictured in 2011, is a patron of the Joe Humphries Memorial Trust, which was launched last month to raise awareness of Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome
In the event that a person does collapse, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be the difference between life and death.
Now Joe’s classmates at De Lisle College in Loughborough have filmed a video with Johnson explaining CPR and how to use a defibrillator – a device that delivers an electric shock to the heart to try to restart it. The footage is available online.
‘If CPR is started within eight minutes, the majority of cases could be saved,’ says Dr Ffion Davies, who is calling for more defibrillators to be located in areas where there are large numbers of people or where sport takes place regularly.
Steve adds: ‘We can’t get Joe back but the trust is his legacy. I won’t rest until we’ve done everything in our power to try to prevent other families going through the hell that we’ll take with us to our own graves.’
Visit the Joe Humphries Memorial Trust at jhmt.org.uk.