Edinburgh dad pays tribute to young son Christopher Cowe from Balerno who died aged 15

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Christopher’s dad said he was “always good natured and with lots of smiles, shouts and laughs”

An Edinburgh dad whose son died of an undiagnosed heart condition just two months before his 16th birthday has said he wants to raise awareness to save other families from the same heartache.

Christopher Cowe, from Balerno, was at home with his parents during lockdown when he collapsed in January 2021. Despite efforts to save him, he died and his family were left devastated. His mum Shiva and dad Ross didn’t know what had killed their son until a few months later, when results from autopsy and other tests came in.

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In the aftermath of Christopher’s death, Ross said he felt lost and “desolate” as the family waited for answers about what happened to him. The 50-year-old said the loss of their only child is still hard to accept.

Christopher loved fashion, football and musicChristopher loved fashion, football and music
Christopher loved fashion, football and music

"When I think back to the day it happened I can’t help it, I end up asking why my son had his future taken away from him,” said Ross. “His health was great. I did really struggle at the time and I still find it difficult to accept this has happened. Those first few months after were desolate and horrendous.

"Our only child was taken away from us and there was no reason for it. We felt in that instant totally alone and isolated, especially with all that was going on with Covid. We couldn’t even hug people. For months after, we were completely lost and in a state of shock. I couldn’t believe or accept it and felt so angry.”

When Ross and Shiva discovered Christopher had myocarditis, which causes enlarged heart and scar tissue, they said they couldn’t believe it. Christopher was sporty and showed no signs of any health problems.

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"The results of the autopsy were so perturbing. He had started running and was a strong swimmer. He would do an hour on the exercise bike and it was like he didn’t break a sweat. We don’t know and will never know what caused the condition. But at least we were told what it was. It’s not peace of mind but it’s something to hold onto.”

Christopher died just before his 16th birthdayChristopher died just before his 16th birthday
Christopher died just before his 16th birthday

Christopher loved football, playing computer games with his friends and fashion. A Hearts season ticket holder, he went to games with his dad and, despite the team’s relegation in 2020, he remained a loyal supporter. From his years in the Beavers and Cubs, to football games at Tynecastle, Ross has many treasured memories of his son.

He said: “He always stuck by his team. Christopher was really into his clothes and had all the gear. He had so many brightly coloured shoes and designer brands. He loved music especially rap. I kept trying to educate him on rock and pop music. But he was having none of it. He liked to travel with us on holidays and had been on a school trip to Naples that he really enjoyed.

"I’m so glad he had the opportunity to travel with his mates and enjoy the freedom that brought. He was developing that thirst for new places and had an inquisitive mind. At school he was hard working, bright and conscientious with an aptitude for maths, business and media studies. He spent six years in Beavers and Cubs. Those times are so precious to me now. At home it was difficult to separate Christopher from his Xbox or Playstation. He had lively banter with his friends, was always good natured and had lots of smiles, shouts and laughs.”

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One of Ross’ most treasured memories is helping Christopher collect the Match Attax trading cards. “For years he and I completed the collections, although Shiva thinks that I probably enjoyed the thrill of swapping and completing a collection more than Christopher. In one season I drove around a number of Co-op stores in Edinburgh purchasing a large number of Kellogg's cereals in the search for particular collectors editions.”

Christopher's death was also a devastating blow to his friends, but Ross said it has meant so much to him and his wife that they continue to keep his memory alive by holding fundraising events and even dedicating a school yearbook to him. Christopher would have been 18 on Saturday, April 22. Friends and family organised a special event at Balerno High School to mark the day, celebrate his life and offered free heart screening for young people.

Ross added: “His friends have continued to put him front and centre of what they are doing and it’s testament to them. That’s so emotional and humbling. On his 16th, 17th and 18th birthdays they did a balloon launch at his primary school Dean Park. The 6th grade year book is dedicated to him.

"From skydives to The Kiltwalk they have continued to support my wife and me. I’ve seen all these young people growing up, many from a young age. To see how they have dealt with and risen from this makes me proud of them too. As a family we want to help others by giving back to our community, one which Christopher benefited so much from. By doing that we can help to fund further research and run screening events in loving memory of our beautiful boy. We want to do all we can to prevent this happening to others. No one should lose their precious son or daughter at such a young age.”

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