Grieving dad Robert Cowan has called for all young people in Scotland to be given free workplace heart checks.
It follows the tragic death of his 25-year-old son Scott, who lost his life three months after being found with an unknown cardiac defect.
Robert, 61, wants to see all workplaces provide facilities for free heart checks for staff under 35 to stop deaths like
those of his son.
He has launched a fundraising bid to help finance the cardiac programme and hopes to raise awareness of rare heart conditions among young people.
Robert, who is a retired manufacturing worker, said: “The real tragedy is Scott’s life, which was full of promise, was cut short. I don’t want other parents to go through the same sense of loss.”
Robert says he will never forget the sight of two police officers coming to the door of his home in Paisley at 5.30am last November to tell him his son had suffered a heart attack at home and died.
The cardiac arrest had followed an eight-hour heart operation three months earlier and two spells in hospital.
The warning signs came in August last year when Scott, who also lived in Paisley, began experiencing shooting pains in his jaw.
Robert added: “He had no history of heart trouble. They carried out a series of tests over several weeks then realised he had problems with his aorta artery, including a tear, which meant his heart could have gone at any time.
“As soon as they found out what was wrong, he was taken by ambulance from Paisley Royal Alexandra Hospital to the Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank, where he underwent an emergency eight-hour operation.”
At the time, Scott was working as a technical operator for a manufacturing firm in Inchinnan, near Glasgow Airport, who have agreed to allow their premises to be used for workplace testing.
He played football for several amateur teams in Paisley.
Robert added: “I remember saying to the surgeon, ‘How can anyone who looks so healthy be so ill?’ The surgeons put in a
mechanical valve and grafted an artery back on to the heart.”
After the operation, Scott had a small stroke and was kept in hospital for several weeks to aid his recovery. He was allowed home but was taken back in for treatment after he had a relapse.
Scott was then put on a major course of medication and had to attend warfarin clinics as an outdoor patient.
On November 30, he collapsed at home but was able to call an ambulance. After paramedics arrived, he went into cardiac arrest but the crew were unable to revive him. Robert added: “The knock at the door from the police was horrendous. I knew what it was right away.”
Scott was laid to rest at Woodside Crematorium in late December. Robert said it is vital that young people have their heart checks, no matter how fit and healthy they feel.
He added: “I didn’t realise that this was an issue with Scott. He looked the picture of health, even when they were doing the tests.”
Scott’s friends and family are having a charity football match in his memory on October 24 at Mossedge Village in Linwood.
Scott’s pal Dean Robertson, 25, is helping to organise a series of fundraising events for CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young).
Yesterday family and friends took part in a half-marathon and other sponsored events on the Isle of Cumbrae, which have already raised £3000.
Dean, who was at Gleniffer High School in Paisley with Scott, said:”It was a tremendous shock when Scott died, particularly as we all thought he was on the road to recovery. Hopefully the fundraising for CRY and the workplace cardiac checks will make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to another young person.
Robert added: “CRY is able to arrange screening programmes in workplaces and it needs funds for this. We have four sessions arranged with companies. The charity pays for it and the firms provide the facilities. Hopefully it’ll prevent future unnecessary deaths like Scott’s.”