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My son, 13, had a lazy Sunday playing Fortnite – hours later I found him dead

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A MUM is searching for answers after finding her son, 13, dead, having seemingly had a relaxing Sunday.

Samantha Cowley, who lives in Banbury, said her son Matthew had been excitedly playing the video game Fortnite with friends after spending the day with family.

Samantha Cowley was beyond devastated when she discovered her beloved son Matthew dead in his bedroom last year

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Samantha Cowley was beyond devastated when she discovered her beloved son Matthew dead in his bedroom last yearCredit: Supplied
Matthew had been unwell the week before and doctors thought it may have a viral infection as his glands were swollen

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Matthew had been unwell the week before and doctors thought it may have a viral infection as his glands were swollenCredit: Supplied

The next morning, she found he had died. In an instant his life had been wiped out, with no explanation for his devastated family.

Samantha, who also has daughters Madison, 19, and Amie, 12, is now calling for more awareness into sudden unexplained death in childhood.

She said: “We had heard him laughing and joking with his friends that evening as he played Fortnite with them, and he was having such a good time.

“Now he’s gone so suddenly like this, its left us in limbo, not knowing why it happened.

“We want some answers and explanation and we haven’t got any.”

Sudden unexplained death in childhood (SUDC) is when a child dies between the ages of one and 18 that remains unexplained after a thorough investigation, including an autopsy. 

Most often a seemingly healthy child goes to sleep and never wakes up. 

Doctors don’t know yet what causes SUDC, how to predict or or how to prevent it. Between 40 and 50 children in the UK die each year due to SUDC.

Now Samantha and other families affected by it are calling for more awareness and research into the condition.

They lobbied parliament last week, supported by top health professionals and MP Kwasi Kwarteng

Doctor explains Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC)

Samantha said: “It’s so important that more research is done into SUDC and prevent other families from suffering the heartbreak that we have done.

“Not knowing why this happened to Matthew makes our pain even worse and we need more answers.”

Matthew had been unwell the week before and doctors thought it may have a viral infection as his glands were swollen.

But he made a recovery, and that weekend he’d seem to have shaken off the virus.

Samantha said: “It hasn’t been linked to the virus he had.

“During that day we had watched a movie and had a really lazy family day together. Because Matthew had been unwell we wanted to take it really easy.”

He went to bed after playing Fortnite and at 7am the following morning, Samantha went to his bedroom followed by Amie to wake him up, but found him unresponsive.

She called 911 but knew that he had already passed away. 

I’m trying to educate people about SUDC, as I don’t want to scare parents but it does happen. I never thought it would ever happen to a child of mine, but it has

Samantha

Samantha said: “It has just been such a terrible shock for us all, and especially for Amie.

“Madison was also really close to him, but Amie and Matthew were like twins, they were incredibly close.

“There was only a year between them in age and they looked so alike with their blond hair and blue eyes, people often mistook them for twins. 

“They did so much together, they played football and he was teaching her how to play Fortnite. They had such an amazing bond, and losing Matthew has hit her especially hard.”

Samantha, who is now fundraising for the SUDC Foundation aswell as trying to raise awareness, is also undergoing genetic testing with the children.

A post mortem carried out on Matthew showed there was nothing physically wrong with him.

She said: “They are trying to find some answers. People ask if he had the Covid vaccine, thinking that may have caused it, but he was never given it. 

“I’m trying to educate people about SUDC, as I don’t want to scare parents but it does happen. I never thought it would ever happen to a child of mine, but it has,

“Amie has been put on beta blockers in case it was a problem with his heart rhythm thats genetic. And we are all undergoing heart tests too.

“We don’t know the answers on the tests yet, and because there is no explanation for it, we are scared in case it happens again. 

“We may not get any answers, and thats why more research needs to be done into SUDC, to stop other families being hit by such tragedy.”

What is sudden unexplained death in childhood (SUDC)?

SUDC is a category of death in children aged one to 18.

It applies to deaths that remain unexplained after a thorough investigation, including an autopsy.

Most often, a seemingly healthy child goes to sleep and never wakes up.

Experts believe it happens to one in every 100,000 children.

But they don’t know what causes it, meaning it is impossible to predict or prevent.

Source: SUDC Foundation

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