Mum’s mission to save lives

A grieving mum is planning a fundraising campaign as she prepares to face the first anniversary of her son’s death.

Jake Gallagher died aged just 16 of an undiagnosed genetic heart condition in April last year. Now mum Sarah Pyatt, of Longbrooke, Houghton Regis, is fundraising for defibrillators that could have saved Jake’s life.

The teenager was preparing to take his GCSEs and had a sixth form place at All Saints Academy in Dunstable, when he collapsed at his grandmother’s home.

He died two days later at Watford General Hospital. His family donated his organs, saving three people’s lives. A post mortem revealed Jake, who had been diagnosed with Asperger’s at the age of eight, had a genetic heart defect.

“At the Easter disco at St Vincent’s last year he was jumping around happy,” said Sarah. “On Mother’s Day he went out and bought me a present. No-one knew he had the condition but an ECG could have saved his life. He had palpitations and a fast heart rate but the doctors put it down to stress.

“If anyone had symptoms you have got to get them to the doctors. Jake was lovely, unique and so funny. He was very very well spoken and things had to be just so.”

Sarah turned to SADS UK (Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome) for support after Jake’s death and is helping fundraise for the charity, which promotes health screening and is campaigning for defibrillators to be made more widely available.

“They helped me get advice regarding screening for my three little ones,” she said.

Leo, aged seven, and twins Charlie and Ella aged five, have a different father and luckily have been given the all clear.

But Sarah is now campaigning for a defibrillator for St Vincent’s RC Primary School that the three youngsters attend.

Each machine costs around £1,100 and a fundraiser last year raised nearly £2,000. A fundraising family karate day is being held at Houghton Regis Leisure Centre on May 11 and Jake’s Bash is being held at Chalgrave Manor Golf Club in Toddington on September 6.

Sarah is now looking for donations for the memorial disco. Among prizes so far are dresses and designer bags donated by TV personality Lorraine Kelly.

Tickets for the disco, with all proceeds going to SADS, are now on sale at £10 for adults. Contact Sarah on 07974 054286.