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The sudden death of an Irish man in Koh Tao leads to successful heart campaign by his parents

Colin Callanan’s mother, Marie, said she is delighted the teens, who underwent screening at her late son’s former school, have now been referred for further cardiac screening.

To be captioned by Picture Desk“Rather than letting Colin’s death be another statistic, we said ‘let’s try and raise awareness of this huge problem — Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome’.”
She has now appealed to all secondary schools to arrange cardiac screening for first-year students, and to make CPR and ‘First Responder’ training part of transition-year programme.  Mr Callanan, 29, a father of one from Innishannon, Co Cork, was working for Australian firm AMS services and maintenance.

Seemingly fit and healthy, he decided last April to travel to the Thai island of Koh Tao to get a rescue diving certificate. But tragedy struck during his dive on April 13 and while initial reports suggested he had drowned, it later emerged that he had suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.

Marie said she, her husband Donal, and their children, Sarah and Simon, in Innishannon, Keith and Julie, in Perth, and Colin’s son Lee, were shocked to learn of Colin’s unknown cardiac condition.

Family members were later screened at the Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) centre at the Adelaide and Meath Hospital in Dublin. Marie said they have now devoted themselves to raise awareness about SADS screening. While Keith and Julie began a campaign in Perth, Marie wrote to secondary schools in West Cork urging them to arrange screening for first-year students. She praised Colin’s former school, St Brogan’s in Bandon, for arranging a visit by Heart Aid’s mobile screening unit which identified four at-risk students.

“I felt the school took our request seriously. It may have disrupted school activity for a few days, but if you can save one person’s life, it’s worth it. “We don’t want this to be about Colin. We want it to be about CRY. They depend on public donations and there is a long waiting list for screening.” The family is now promoting two large fundraisers for CRY to take place on the first anniversary weekend of Colin’s death.

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