Women dies from heart attack whilst swimming in pool at Lancaster University

Laura West died from an undiagnosed genetic heart condition

A woman has died from a heart attack whilst swimming in a pool at Lancaster University.

29-year-old Laura West was swimming in Lancaster University’s Sports Centre when she suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.

The postmortem revealed that Laura had been living with undiagnosed Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC), a medical condition where the heart becomes weak, reports LancsLive

ARVC is genetic condition so after Laura’s passing members of her family were then tested and it was discovered that Laura’s mother, Gilly Atkinson, and her youngest brother both carry the gene.

Gilly went on to get an internal defibrillator fitted, known as an ICD, and is now dedicating her time to raising awareness of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome.

“I am used to what might happen to me in the future. I’ve not got a normal extended lifespan like everybody else, but I know what I’m doing is in Laura’s memory and saving other people’s lives as much as possible,” Gilly said.

Gilly has devoted time to raise money for the British Heart Foundation as well as fundraising for local defibrillators which started in June 2021. With the help of Helen Crane and Gillian Gallagher, the women managed to get 48 defibrillators installed with 12 lives saved so far.

The importance of fundraising for defibrillators became apparent when Helen was rejected when requesting that the lifesaving equipment be installed at her work leaving her “shocked and disappointed”.

Helen and Gillian have held fundraisers in the local area and have raised £3,000 for a defibrillator to be installed at Fleetwood Boating Lake and are still holding fundraisers to get more of the lifesaving equipment installed.

Gilly said: “Every time we get notified of a defibrillator being used, we still have to go straight out to it, it doesn’t matter what time it happens we have to go straight out to the defibrillator. We make sure there’s new pads in place and the ancillaries, which is the medical equipment, is inside the cabinet.”

The aim of the fundraising is to try and get defibrillators five minutes away from each other which has the potential to save many lives but just relying on public funding is not going to be sufficient enough. 

Featured image via Gilly Atkinson on Facebook.

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