4th June 2003 was a day that changed my life forever. My younger brother (Matt) was a 23-year-old final year student who was full of life, living it to the max in Portsmouth with his University friends.
As children we fought non stop, gave my parents headaches on long car journeys with his unique ability to give me a dead leg whilst still managing to keep his seat belt on. Somewhere along the way we became friends, I think it was when we both left home. He stopped calling me fatty and instead was proudly introducing me as his older sister.
Then our family world was turned upside down. Matt was not aware that he had a very serious heart condition called Cardiomyopathy. For the non-cardiologists amongst you it’s a heart muscle disorder where heart muscle cells are gradually replaced by scar tissue and fat cells.
In Matt’s case, undetected his condition was steadily worsening as he grew up. We always thought he looked pale, but knowing he was living life to the full, put it down to excess beer and late nights! He was never ill, and his life had taken him on adventures all over the world. Hardly a sick young man!
Whilst out with his university friends, celebrating completing the final exams, Matt and his mates went to play on the beach at Southsea. We have video footage of them racing around, chasing each other and messing about. What happens next is literally heart breaking.
Matt collapsed as his heart gave out, his friends who thought he was lying down for a rest, suddenly became aware that he was not breathing. They tried desperately to administer CPR. The emergency services arrived but Matt was gone. For his friends, the devastation that they or the emergency services could not revive Matt is a constant pain. What we now know is that his heart condition was so severe that we never would have got him back. Matt died on the morning of the 4th of June 2003.
I don’t know whether subconsciously that is why I have ended up teaching First Aid, but I miss him (maybe not the dead legs or the fatty comments!) and so do Mum, Dad, our family and all his lovely friends.
On your anniversary Matt – miss you x
For more information see www.cardiomyopathy.org