A MOTHER has told of her heartbreak after finding her teenage son had died in his bedroom when she tried to wake him for school.
Robbie McDonald, 14, was lying lifeless and cold in his bed when family members tried to rouse him on Friday morning.
The death is being treated as unexplained but it is understood Robbie suffered a seizure in May last year – an episode which continues to confound doctors.
Around 16,000 fans at Tynecastle Stadium paid tribute to the Hearts devotee by breaking into a minute’s applause in the 14th minute of Saturday’s match against Falkirk.
Robbie – who lived at Southhouse Broadway in Burdiehouse – will be buried in a Hearts jersey signed by all the club’s players.
His mother Rosemarie, 45, watched footage of the ovation by Hearts fans and said it “brought a tear” to her eye. “It was amazing, everyone standing up and clapping like that,” she said.
“He loved football, he was always playing with his wee friends. It would have made him happy.”
Rosemarie said Friday had begun like any other day and she had been trying to get her children ready for school when she heard daughter Caitlyn, 16, shouting upstairs.
“His sister was shouting at me that Robbie’s arm had gone all grey,” said Rosemarie.
“I ran up thinking that he had probably just be lying on his arm while he was sleeping.
“But he had gone grey all over his body and he felt cold.When the paramedics came they said there was nothing anyone could have done.
“He went to bed on Thursday and when I went to get him up for school on Friday he was gone.”
A post-mortem to discover the cause of death is due to take place in the coming days.
Rosemarie said Robbie was an avid football fan but also a committed animal lover – particularly his two dogs.
The family’s lurcher Bella has lain on Robbie’s bed for the past few days whimpering for him to come home, she said.
He also loved his Staffordshire bull terrier Rocco, pictured above lying with Robbie in a treasured family snap.
Rosemarie said her son would light up a room and had a “heart of gold”.
“Everybody will tell you he was a loveable laddie, so likeable,” she said.
“He was the life and soul of the party and he would make a joke about everything.
“If you were feeling down then Robbie would say something or pull a face and soon you would be laughing.
“You could never be down in my house with Robbie around.”
A Hearts supporter from birth, Robbie’s brother Gordon, 25, and sister Ashleigh, 21, attended Saturday’s match as a mark of respect to their brother.
A spokesman for Hearts FC said the gesture by both sets of supporters in the 14th minute of the match had been a “fitting tribute” to a young fan who “had his whole life in front of him”.
“Everyone at the football club was shocked when they heard of the tragedy and we would like to extend our sincerest condolences to Robbie’s family at this desperately sad time,” he said.
The family has been inundated with flowers and tributes to Robbie as the community tries to come to terms with the tragedy.
Louise Sinclair, acting headteacher for Gracemount High School which Robbie attended, said: “Everyone is deeply saddened to hear about the sudden death of Robbie.
“The Gracemount school community is a very close one and our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.
“Robbie was a quiet, cheerful and unassuming boy who had just started his Skill Force course and was very enthusiastic about all the activities it involves.
“Robbie loved animals, was a good friend to many and will be sadly missed. We will ensure that pupils and staff are offered all the support they need.”
Funeral arrangements have not yet been made.
Unexplained deaths ‘from natural causes’
A POST-mortem to establish what killed Robbie McDonald is due to be held in the coming days.
While the 14-year-old suffered no long-standing health conditions, unexplained sudden death is often recorded as from natural causes. Experts believe many of these deaths are due to sudden cardiac arrest.
There is no suggestion Robbie died from a heart-related defect. Any death where the cause is not immediately known will be investigated by a Fatal Accident Inquiry. Robbie died four months after 15-year-old Calum Kellie, who attended Balerno High School, also died in his sleep.
Father Malcolm Kellie said: “There will never be a day when I won’t miss him.”