George Ashby had no idea that something could be wrong with his heart. His mum Amelia, a GP, had just got a new stethoscope when, later that same day, George suggested they used it to listen to each other’s hearts. Upon listening to George’s, Amelia realised that he had a serious heart murmur.
“She [Amelia] didn’t tell me at the time obviously, because I would have been terrified to be honest,” George explained during an interview he and Amelia completed on BBC Radio Solent on June 20th. “But it was pretty much by luck and it was quite amazing actually.”
“I heard the murmur and I must admit I was terrified,” Amelia said. “I knew it was going to be quite a significant problem, but like George said, I didn’t tell him at the time and he found out when we had the referral to outpatients. We told him very shortly before we took him in and it turned out he had something called coarctation, where his aorta comes out of his heart and it had actually narrowed to less than 4mm.”
George found the fear he felt hard to explain. “It was something I can’t really describe to be honest. Because normally most people have life-saving heart surgeries when they are older ages. It is quite a scary experience to be honest.”
Heart conditions don’t just affect older generations, though. 12 young people die each week due to undiagnosed heart conditions, and now George wants to raise awareness.
He created a video blog to share his story, and help others realise how common cardiac conditions are in young people and how important screening is for early detection. Because without making the innocent suggestion to his mum to try out a new stethoscope, George may not have had the surgery that saved his life.
Before finishing the interview, George explained why he feels so motivated to support CRY.
“Because I do feel it’s really important,” he said. “Because every week 12 young people die of some kind of undiagnosed heart condition. If the UK introduces screening to the NHS programme, then this has been proved to lead to an 89 percent reduction in deaths, so 9-10 people’s lives could be saved every single week.”
To continue in his support of CRY, George was preparing to complete a 66-mile bike ride in the Isle of Wight with his mum the day after their interview.