Joe Lewis

About Joe’s Jumpstart

On the 7th June 2012 whilst on a family walk our son, Joseph Lewis, collapsed and died from Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS). He was 20 years old, had just finished school and was taking a year off whilst we considered his future. The shock of this event is indescribable, we were with him, both medically trained and the ambulance arrived within eight minutes yet, despite everybodies best efforts at resuscitation, we were unable to save him.

To lose someone so close in such dramatic circumstances demands some form of explanation and once we had a cause of death we tried desperately to understand what exactly it was that killed our son. It was during this research that we became aware that this is a much bigger problem than we realised. We had heard of SADS but it was something that happened to other people. There was no history of heart problems in either of our families and as Joe had never exhibited any sign of cardiac illness it never crossed our minds that there may be something wrong with him.

What our research made us realise was some important facts: The only way to restart a SADS victim’s heart is with a defibrillator and that that our Joe is not unique; there are too many children and young adults dying from this little understood condition. CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) believe that there may be as many as 17 young people a week collapsing and dying from cardiac arrest in the UK, and, according to the charity SADS UK, 7 of these will be children in school. Current screening would indicate that 1 in 300 children has a cardiac condition that could lead to cardiac arrest, that means that in a secondary school with 1,500 pupils there are, statistically, five children who are potentially at risk of cardiac risk; to say nothing of the teachers, cleaners, support staff, visitors etc.

Joe's Jumpstart

We have two other children, one of whom is still in school, and we realised that not only did his school not have a defibrillator but there was a lack of information and knowledge about defibrillators and the risk of cardiac arrest in the young. We have therefore decided that the only way that these vital pieces of equipment will become second nature to future generations is to have them readily available and for children to be shown what they do, how to use them and not be intimidated by the language that is currently associated with them.

To this end we have created the charity ‘Joe’s Jumpstart’. Our aim is to support schools in obtaining defibrillators. The emphasis is on community, we would like to help schools raise finance through local businesses. For example if 10 local businesses donate £100 each then that school will have a defibrillator which will be inscribed with all those businesses that invested in the lives of the children of their community. There will be a central fund that will be maintained and this will help subsidise the purchase of the defibrillators for smaller schools and special needs schools who may have more difficulty in raising funds.

We do not intend to become a huge charity that requires a large administrative overhead. Instead we want to be able to support schools in obtaining these essential pieces of life saving equipment by the discounts obtainable in bulk purchasing. We have no affiliation with any particular company but will pass on the savings and subsidies obtained through corporate investment to the schools and the children that need this equipment.

We also intend to lobby Government to make both first aid lessons and defibrillators mandatory in schools. You would hesitate to enter a public building that did not have fire extinguishers; we want the same attitude towards defibrillators.