The mother of a teenage boy who died suddenly of a rare heart disease says she wants his death to save others.
Danielle Bradley’s 14-year-old son, Jordan O’Neill, died at the hospital less than 24 hours after he began experiencing severe back pain.
Doctors initially thought he may have had a stroke, but tests showed that the ‘happy and healthy’ teenager had actually had an aortic dissection – a tear in the wall of the main artery that carried blood out of the heart.
He died the following evening after a failed operation.
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Aortic dissection is a rare condition that commonly affects people over 60 years of age.
Symptoms are thought to resemble a heart attack, such as shortness of breath and sudden severe chest or upper back pain.
Danielle says she knew nothing about the condition before her son’s tragic death, and she now wants to raise awareness to help save the lives of others.
The 35-year-old, from north Manchester, became concerned when her son complained of a “tearing sensation” in his chest on the evening of June 30th.
Tests at the hospital showed Jordan had a damaged aorta and he was transferred to Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital for surgery.
Danielle was unable to stay with him due to coronavirus restrictions in place at the hospital, but was told the surgery would take about 14 hours.
But doctors called her on the evening of July 1 to deliver the devastating news that Jordan had passed away.
“It was awful,” said Danielle, 35.
“If anyone is bad, then you expect it, but he was torn away in a few hours.
“It still does not feel right. Jordan was so loving and kind and had lots of friends.
“He had his whole life ahead of him, but it was taken in the worst possible way.
“It was so unexpected. My boy was healthy and happy.
“The surgeon said that in his 30 years as a surgeon he has never seen an aortic dissection in a child and we may never know the cause.
“This is something that happens in 60- to 80-year-old, not healthy children.”
Some underlying health conditions may make an aortic dissection more likely, but Danielle says Jordan did not have anything she was aware of.
After his death, the teenager’s DNA was tested against 40 known genetic conditions, but all came back negative.
In a desperate search for answers, Danielle contacted a leading American researcher in aortic dissections.
She has since been told that her son’s DNA will be used in a research program aimed at identifying the genes leading to the condition.
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Danielle hopes that Jordan’s experience will raise awareness of the life-threatening condition and ultimately save lives.
She now forms a charity, called THINK JORDAN AORTIC UK, in memory of her son to help educate people about signs of aortic dissection.
“I want my son to save the lives of others,” Danielle explained.
“It can happen to someone else’s child, and I do not want that.
“One of the doctors at the hospital told me that sometimes someone has to die to save the lives of others.”
A GoFundMe site has also been set up to raise money for the charity.
You can donate to the fundraising page here.