Comment: The fact is, defibrillators save lives

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The word tragedy is often overused, applied to everything from losing a big football match to a senseless waste of money.

Jamie Skinner would have appreciated the passion that leads to a sporting contest being described in such overblown terms. He loved football and was a gifted player.

But his death at the age of 13 on one of the pitches where he excelled is a tragedy in the true sense of the word.

A natural athlete, no-one had the slightest clue he was at risk of sudden heart failure. Why would they? There was no reason to suspect the superfit teenager was vulnerable – but he was.

The problem is more common than you probably think. Every week in the UK, 12 apparently fit and healthy people aged 35 and under die from undiagnosed 
cardiac conditions.

That death toll is shocking – particularly because many of those young people could easily have been saved.

We will never know whether timely use of a defibrillator could have saved Jamie’s life.

But we do know that anyone who suffers a heart attack outside of a hospital is three times more likely to survive if they are quickly treated with a defibrillator. And every minute makes a difference when it comes to treating someone who has had a heart attack.

That is why the Evening News is joining forces with Jamie’s family to launch our Shockingly Easy campaign today.

Together we hope to ensure that there is a defibrillator in every sports centre in the Lothians. The simple fact is that defibrillators save lives – of both young and old.

And they are incredibly simple to use. We also want to encourage many more people to learn vital life-saving skills.

Nothing we can do will bring back Jamie. But with your help we can help stop other families going through what the Skinners have suffered. Please help. Turn to pages 4-5 to find out how.