Collapse was 'too close to home'
THE collapse of footballer Fabrice Muamba brought back memories for Bristol man James Bailey.
Like Fabrice, inset, James had an undetected heart condition that could have proved fatal.
But unlike the Premiership player, his problem was discovered before it led to a cardiac arrest.
James's problem, known as Sudden Adult Death syndrome Wolff-Parkinson-White, was found during a check at his school, QEH in Clifton.
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James, now 20, was able to have surgery to correct his abnormality before he went to university at King's College, London, where he is studying Spanish.
As a result of what happened to him, James became a supporter of the charity CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young). He organised a fund-raising auction at the school and has attended parliamentary receptions and spoken in the House of Commons about the importance of screening.
Now James has been chosen to carry the Olympic flame through Backwell Farleigh on May 23.
He was nominated for the honour by his parents Nick and Charlotte, who live in Congresbury.
James said: "I am absolutely fine now. I can't wait to carry the torch.
"It is truly an incredible honour and it will be a once in a lifetime experience".
He said he hoped the high profile case of Muamba, who is making a remarkable recovery after his heart stopped during the FA Cup tie at Spurs on Saturday, would further raise the profile of CRY.
Currently 12 young adults a week across the country die from heart conditions of which they were unaware and the charity believes this figure could be cut if more young people were screened.
James recalled: "I was healthy when I was diagnosed. I had been due to go on a tour of Holland with the QEH football team and was fed up that I had to miss it. I am a Tottenham fan and was listening to the commentary of Saturday's game.
"As soon as I heard it being described, I knew what had happened. It was awful. It struck home that that could have been what happened to me."
Nikky Burns, school nurse at QEH, initiated the annual CRY screening at the school in 2009.
Parents pay £35 for the test, in which an ECG is carried out by trained technicians. This is read by a cardiologist on site; if any abnormality is seen then a further test (echocardiogram) is performed.
She said: "Since 2009 we have picked up a couple of cases which either needed surgery or annual review in order to monitor the condition. All of these boys, after treatment or assessment, have carried on with their sport, reassured by the advice and support provided by CRY.
"As a mother of a teenage son who is very active, I have no reservations in having him tested this year. If his results are clear I can feel suitably reassured, however, if he shows an abnormality, at least I know that he can be treated as soon as possible and hopefully continue safely in his chosen activities."
James added: "I urge everyone to be tested. I'm living proof these screenings do work."