Saving Broken Hearts
We was like any normal family Maggie and Robert and their 6 children and baby no 7 on its way. Until 19th December 2010 when charlotte their normally healthy 3rd child awoke with a swollen face it was so bad she could hardly open her eyes. We rushed her to primary care in Redditch to be told its mumps take her home. Those words will ring horror in our ear’s forever.
We came back home and charlotte took herself to bed to rest we kept checking on her throughout the day. Later on she went for a shower and had a little bit to eat then began to get cold so we tucked her up in bed with extra blankets and she drifted of to sleep and settled down for the night.
Next morning 20th December 2010 Charlotte awoke screaming, her brother Carrick came running up to me saying charlotte cannot breath we ran to her she was laying in bed still and straight away I could see something
was not right. I rang 999 straight away while Robert sat with her keeping her calm but while
I was on the phone Rob ran to me shouting she has stopped breathing so with that the
operator told me to put her on speaker phone and she gave me instruction’s on how to
perform CPR (something a parent should never have to do) it seemed like eternity
waiting for the ambulance (bad winter 2010) they arrived after 12 minutes and took
from me. They worked on charlotte in the bedroom for what seemed like forever and
decided they needed to get her to hospital asap. So off they went still performing
CPR as the went. We followed behind in a responders car. Once we arrived we was
shown to a side room doctors and nurses coming in and out asking lots of
questions. They eventually came in about 2 hours after charlotte
stopped breathing and said they had done all they can they said we
need you to come in the resus room and call it. I didn’t quite
understand what they meant until we was in the room and the doctors
looked over and said you need to tell us to stop. My world was breaking
I brought life to our daughter now we was what felt like taking it away.
I stood behind Robert and said the awful word of stop they all looked at each
other and these words will never leave me TIME OF DEATH!!!!
They then realised I was pregnant and got midwifes to come and check me out. Everything was fine with baby.
We was then taken back to the side room while they removed the tubes etc from Charlotte. Eventually we was allowed to go and see her. Once in the room with our little girl, reality hit.
How can a fit healthy 16 old just die ??? had we done something wrong??? did she really have mumps??? Mumps don’t kill surely???
We left the hospital to go home to Charlottes siblings,the awful task of telling Christopher 18 Caroline 17 Craig 14 Carrick 12 and Cameron 10 that their happy, fun smiling sister will not be coming home.
We started to arrange her funeral she was to wear her prom dress, be taken in a white carriage pulled by two beautiful white horses on new years eve.
But before this could happen the stress had brought on premature labour four days after we lost our baby girl on Christmas eve we welcomed Charlotte’s baby brother in to the world Charlotte had already picked his name Mitchell but we added Charlie in memory of his big sister.
I came out of hospital the same day and we took Mitchell Charlie to meet his big sister at the chapel of rest.
We then came home and prepared the final journey for charlotte. In the matter of 11 days we lost charlotte, gave birth to her brother and laid her to rest on the last day of the year.
It then took a further 3 months to find out why we had lost our beloved daughter. We got a phone call to tell us that Charlotte had suffered a massive cardiac arrest, sudden adult death syndrome.
We did some research into this and found out that 12/19 young adults and children die in the UK EVERY WEEK plus 1000’s of adults every year.
We was sent for screening as this can be heredity. From the screening, out of the 6 children, Caroline had a harmless heart murmur Carrick had a bicuspid valve disease and everyone else was clear.
We then decided we needed to raise awareness and found out that a defibrillator could of saved her life. We set up a fun day in Charlotte’s memory to raise awareness and funds to provide Charlotte’s old school with a lifesaving machine. This was a huge success and we was asked to do more so me Robert arranged more. Charlottes brother Craig was also very passionate about this, so we set up Redditch Heart Safe and started fund raising to provide all schools in Redditch with a defibrillator. We also had another baby in 2012 a little girl we named her poppy she came rather quick and 7 weeks premature to be born on father's day a gift from Charlotte maybe.?
Things were looking better, we were doing really well funding defibs and up until June 2013
we had installed 30 defibrillators in Charlie’s memory. We then received a phone call from
one of Craig’s teachers to say he was worried about Craig he had been passing out and
feeling faint one of the major signs of sudden death syndrome. We got Craig back in the
clinic for some more screening . This time they found something, it was called an
incomplete branch according to the doctor it was nothing to worry about if there was
10 people in a room 3 of them would have it. So with this in mind we allowed
Craig to come back and help fund raise we also let him go back to Tae Kwon
Do training. Then on the 10th December 2013 Craig came home from college
like any other day but this time we felt more ready and excited for Christmas.
Craig stood in the kitchen at 17.30 laughing and joking and asking for a
moped for Christmas my reply was yeah yeah whatever. It’s wrapped up under
the Christmas tree it come’s with its own matchbox garage (meaning a toy one).
We all stood giggling then Craig said right im of out to youth and meet my mates.
Ok don’t be late home I replied. Then at 9 pm we had a knock at the door to be faced with
a police women asking if we are the parents of Craig? I felt dread, I knew something wasn’t right,
I asked is he in cardiac arrest she said you need to come with me now !!! I asked again is he in cardiac arrest this time she replied YES!!
No this can’t happen again he had been screened, he is ok how can he been in cardiac arrest so once again we was driven to the hospital. On arrival they tried to show us in to the same room, we refused standing out side resus while they worked on him. They came to us and said we are sorry there was nothing we can do we was shown in to resus, Craig was laying there and looked so peaceful but I kept thinking he was playing us up, telling them he is still warm he can’t be gone. But he was!!! Our world & hearts were breaking again. We had to go home and tell the brothers and sisters once again they had lost another sibling.
We needed to know what had happened that night. Thankfully a friend was with Craig it turned out Craig was walking across a field to meet his friend Harry. Enroute he called him saying meet and don’t forget my custard creams and with that put the phone down. What happened next we are not sure, but he must of felt a pain as something was not right as he phoned his own ambulance and said please help me im joining my sister Charlotte and apparently collapsed on the field. Harry his friend was walking towards Craig to meet him and found him slumped on the ground. Craig asked Harry to get him to the path they need to find me he was still talking to 999 at this point. Because of where Craig was they struggled to find him, it took a total of 29 minutes to get to him from the time he phoned. Harry was trying his best to provide CPR but unfortunately it weren’t to be.
So now we were arranging another final journey.
This time Craig got his wish so on the 19th December 2013 almost 3 years after we lost Charlotte we was laying Craig to rest, he got his wish. He got his first n last ride. He was placed inside his forever bed, a coffin covered in motorbikes,he had a motorbike and side car hearse and was escorted by what i seen is 100 odd bikers from blood bikes, police to the biking community which all lined the streets.
100s of people attended some even having to stay outside as there was no room,he was laid to rest toe to toe with his sister. We was all sent for screening again this time the 4 older children were found to have abnormal hearts to the point we was told we need to prepare to lose more of our children.
So now we are in to 2014 and ready to quit we used what funds we had left to provide some more defibrillators we placed one in Morrison’s in Redditch. This was used within 4 weeks of going live but it was used by Maggie herself. And she saved the man in question.
When she came back home she and Robert talked about it and decided Charlotte and Craig was sending a sign not to quit.
So they decided to come back, but this time they wanted to become a fully registered charity and even renamed themselves something to make it more personal to their beautiful children, a legacy to remember them by so they came up with Charlotte and Craig Saving Hearts Foundation and began the process of becoming registered.
Then in March 2015 they had it confirmed that CCSHF had indeed succeeded in this mission and is now fully registered.
And they have provided over 170 defibrillators to schools and communities with all Redditch schools now covered. And are working very closely with schools in Dudley, Bromsgrove & Worcester to be fair they are working all over at the moment.
How much are these machines???
The price of a really good computer. Each machine costs just under £1000!!! This comes with FREE TRAINING.
What cost do you put on a life?
After nearly 6 years of genetic testing we have finally had diagnosis. The condition is called Vascular Ehlers Danlos Type 4, which is a rare condition. This condition has now been found in 4 of our other children, unfortunately with this condition we have been told they will be lucky to reach the age of 40. Also the defibrillator’s that we donate will not save there lives. We will continue to help others & hopfully more lives will be saved.
Thank you so much for your support
Robert & Maggie Underwood
Founders of CCSHF