This is part one of a story I have been wanting to share with all my friends and followers as soon as I heard about it! I’ve decided to write it in two parts so it gets the attention it needs, I know all to well that sometimes the more information you give and the longer the blog the more people will not read to the end.
I have written this blog to tell you all about a remarkable young man, who’s story has touched my heart. I personally didn’t know Danny but friends and family of mine did, they called him their best friend or a really good lad! The majority of the information I have gained to share Danny’s story with you has been from newspaper articles and websites.
Thank you for the information from The Belfast Telegraph – http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/health/features/danny-was-21-and-much-loved-son-and-brother-fit-and-healthy-one-night-he-went-to-bedand-never-woke-up-again-29169542.html
Who is Danny Mills?
A 21 year old heating and plumbing engineer from Bangor, Co.down.
A typical fun loving, young guy, who friends and family describe as a ´kind hearted big soul’, ‘a healthy big lad with a friendly smile, a big friendly giant.’
So why am I telling you all about a typically ordinary looking young guy?
Danny died on New Year’s Eve 2012 from Sudden Adult Death Syndrome. Totally out of the blue, no one expected it! As Danny’s mum Pauline said goodnight to her son on New Year’s Eve, kissed him and told him she loved him she had no idea that this was to be the last time, nothing to prepare her for the horror and devastation of waking the next morning to discover that her eldest son had died in his sleep.
Daniel was a huge presence in the lives of all who knew him. A very fit young man who worked out in the gym every week, last year he sat up his own plumbing and heating company. As well as being hard working, his mum said he enjoyed every second of his life and was a role model to his two younger brothers who idolised him. Pauline said that Keith and Jamie lost not just a brother, but a friend, a play partner and mentor. “Daniel was always there for them, no matter what it was and he always tried to steer them the right way,” she says. “Both boys would ask his advice on everything. He was anti-drugs and would have warned the boys about the dangers of taking drugs. And he loved to wrestle with them in our living room — we used to say he was the biggest child we had. He was such a big friendly giant, a big loveable bear.”
The fateful night
Daniel had planned to bring in the New Year with his friends but at the last minute changed his mind and decided instead to say in with his family. Not one of them could have guessed as they watched TV, wished each other all the best for 2013 and talked into the early hours of the next morning, that it would be the last night they would ever spend with him. Pauline says that while she has never been a religious person, she believes now that Danny’s decision to change his plans at the last minute was God’s way of giving the family a chance to say goodbye.
“It was Danny’s choice not to go out,” she says. “Everyone calls our family the Waltons because we kiss each other every night and tell each other how much we love each other. That’s just the way it has been every night since the boys were born. That night was no different and I kissed Danny and told him I loved him and that I would see him in the morning. We didn’t go to bed until around 3am and I went into Danny’s room after 9am because he had asked me to waken him to prepare dinner. We were having steak and he always said I burnt them. Besides, he enjoyed cooking them — he cooked a lot for the family and it had become a tradition that he did New Year’s Day dinner.”
Recalling the dreadful sight that met her on New Year’s Day, she says: “When I went in I noticed his lips were very blue and when I said his name he didn’t respond. I called Frank and he knew straight away that he had gone. Frank rang an ambulance and I tried to resuscitate Danny until the paramedics arrived. The boys were screaming and shouting to him to please breathe. He had passed away some time in the night. He just closed his wee eyes and went to sleep and didn’t wake up again.”
The shock of finding her son had passed away in the few short hours since they had said goodnight and wished each other a Happy New Year has still not sunk in for Pauline. A very close and loving family, the terrible loss of their “gentle giant” has left all of them, dad Frank (51), a retired businessman and two younger brothers Jamie (15) and Keith (14), completely lost.
Life without Danny is a daily torment for Pauline and her husband and two younger boys. She describes it as an ache, an emptiness, which will never be filled. Knowing he will never again walk through the front door torments her. And of course there are the everyday things that have now become a source of daily grief — not seeing his clothes in the wash basket or ironing a shirt for him is agony to his heartbroken mum.
Pauline says: “I’ve been lucky as a full-time mum to have been able to spend every second with my three boys and I know some parents don’t get that chance. “And now there is just this terrible emptiness.” Evidently still trying to come to terms with her loss, Pauline admits there have been times when she has set a plate for Danny at the dinner table, before remembering he will not pull up a chair and eat with his family ever again. She adds: “There is a silence in the house that wasn’t here before. It’s not the same silence there would have been when Daniel was out but a different kind of silence, a dead silence. Even when we are together and talking, it is there. “The emptiness is horrendous. I think we are living in hell and there couldn’t be a worse feeling. It’s like our hearts have been ripped out.”
What happened to Danny and what is SADS?
Recently it was confirmed that Daniel had died from Sudden Adult Death Syndrome — a silent killer similar to cot death in infancy.
Sudden Adult Death Syndrome, also known as SADS, ‘in the context of cardiology, the term SADS refers to Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome. However, the media sometimes refers to SADS as ‘Sudden Adult Death Syndrome’; or use SADS for referring to the more general notion of a sudden death of an apparently fit and healthy young person’ http://www.c-r-y.org.uk/SADS.htm
According to Sads.org.uk http://www.sads.org.uk/sudden_death.htm?gclid=CL__5Mm-zLYCFQrJtAodLQMArQ Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome is when the cause of death from sudden cardiac death, despite the examination of the person’s heart by an expert pathologist is unascertainable, meaning no cause can be found.
SADS is linked to anomalies in electrical workings of the heart. Statistics show that up to 500 cases of sudden cardiac death every year in the UK are defined as SADS. The rare heart condition is an umbrella term for around a dozen conditions that kills 800 people under 35 a year.
Pauline says she has been given the strength to cope because of the unbelievable support from her son’s best friends — 10 boys and a girl. Within hours of Danny’s death the young people rallied round the family and have remained a constant presence, launching the charity in his memory and provide practical and emotional support to his devastated parents and brothers.
Pauline has been deeply moved by just how much these young people care because of the obvious love they had for her son. She says: “From the moment they heard of Danny’s death his friends have not left us. I’ve never seen anything like it. Young people today are all tarred with the same brush and these young lads are a credit to their generation. In the days after Danny died we were devastated, like zombies really, and these young people took over. They organised everything for us — the flowers for the funeral, the catering, everything. They even took our Christmas decorations down and put them away. They are still here, still at our sides, and I don’t think we would have got through so far without them. I can see a bit of Daniel in every single one of them which is such a comfort and they are telling us things about Daniel that we didn’t know. They have helped us so much. I don’t think we could have functioned without them. It was their idea to set up the charity in Daniel’s memory to raise awareness of SADS and they have put their heart and souls into it and it has given us a focus and really helped us to cope.”
The young people meet twice a week in Pauline and Frank’s house to discuss ways to fundraise. Pauline explains: “We discuss everything as a family, the lads are like my kids, I’ve known most of them since they were 13 or 14 years old “All of Danny’s friends would be there in a heartbeat — not just for Danny — but for anyone who needed help. They are wonderful and I think it says a lot for Daniel that they thought so much of him.
It can be extremely hard in any case in the death of a loved one to reach acceptance! As Daniel had been a fit and healthy young man, the cause of death has made it even harder for his family to accept that he has been taken from them. Pauline said “I had never heard of SADS and it’s like most things, you don’t take notice until it comes knocking at your door.” “The hardest part is that there are no signs. “It’s like he died for absolutely no reason which makes it extremely hard to bear. “You get them past a certain age and you think they are healthy and you might worry about them being out at a party but you don’t go to bed thinking my son could die in his sleep. “It makes it even more heartbreaking and if we can get screening for every young person then we might be able to prevent it happening to someone else.” “Looking down I know he would be so proud of what they are doing and he would love seeing his friends for who they truly are — real people who care.”
Danny’s family and friends have found strength from launching a new charity in Daniel’s memory to raise awareness of SADS.
THE DANNY MILLS HEART FOUNDATION
For part 2 of this story and to find out about this AMAZING charity please click this link – https://mylifemyblogzane.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/part-2-danny-mills-heart-foundation/
For more information or support on SADS please click these links . . .
Cardiac Risk in the Young – http://www.c-r-y.org.uk/index.htm
The British Heart Foundation – http://www.bhf.org.uk/research/our-heart-research-1/how-weve-made-heart-history/sads.aspx
The Oliver King Foundation – http://www.theoliverkingfoundation.co.uk/SADS.html