A devastated mother paid tribute to her 18-year-old son who died after unexplained cardiac arrest.
Naomi Issit paid a heartbroken tribute to her son, Jamie Rees, who she said is “always laughing and smiling”.
The 42-year-old mother was in Canada with her husband when their son Jamie had a heart attack, CoventryLive reported.
He had collapsed when he was out with friends in Rugby on New Year’s Day.
The “beloved by all” student fought for his life at Coventry University Hospital in Walsgrave before he passed away on January 5.
Jamie was a keen fisherman and was about to complete the second year of his plumbing course at Rugby College.
He was planning to start a plumbing business with two of his classmates.
Naomi said, “He was top of the class and passed everything. They left his plumbing practice on the wall and will leave it there in memory of him.”
“He was just a lovely kid. Very determined and loved to travel.
“He had great intentions to go to many places. He loved his friends and family.
“He was always happy. You never see a picture where he’s not smiling and laughing.”
“He was shy and very quiet, but as his tutor said, whenever he spoke, everyone else was quiet because it was always funny or relevant.
“He was a genuinely lovely boy. I’m sure all mothers say that, but he really was.”
“The number of messages and what people have said about him is proof of that. Everyone loved him very much.”
Proof of his selflessness and unwavering desire to help others, Jamie signed up for organ donorship when he was just 16 years old.
Naomi said being an organ donor saved a girl’s life the night she died.
She added: “One of the recipients of part of his liver was a girl and it actually saved her life the night she died.
“That would mean absolutely everything to Jay. Some light from total darkness, absolutely.”
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“A huge animal lover who always wanted to do the right thing for the environment,” Jamie is desperately missed by his many friends and family, including father Gavin Rees and 8-year-old sister Myla.
But his passing has been especially hard for his older brother Callum, 21, to comprehend.
“It’s been difficult for her brother and sister,” added Naomi, a charity manager. “Callum a lot. He was very close to Callum.
“They used to go places together. They did a driving experience together in November, so Callum is glad we got to do stuff like that together.”
“Callum also went to New York with him. They have beautiful memories, but yes, he misses him very much.
“And Myla too. She’s obviously struggling because she’s so much younger and she doesn’t understand why.”
“Because we don’t have a reason. I think it just makes it harder.”
“He was so brilliant at everything he did and such an important part of what everyone did.
“He was the center of the family and we miss him very much.
“Your room is exactly as it was and it will stay exactly as it was. Your car is on the road, as it always will be.”
“We don’t even know how to function without it anymore. It was the absolute foundation of our entire routine.
“It’s just trying to even think about doing a routine without him.
“This is one of the reasons we started fundraising because it gives us something to do where we can think of good and do something for it.”
A campaign to raise funds for more defibrillators in Rugby exceeded its initial target and has raised over £6,770.
Jamie, who lived in Wolvey with her mother, had only a five per cent chance of survival, despite the best efforts of friends who bravely performed CPR.
His chances would have increased to about 75 percent if a defibrillator had been nearby and available for use within nine minutes of his collapse.
“It really tells its own story,” Naomi added.
“We’re shocked that something like this was taken before these things were distributed. It could save so many lives.”
“You hear these things happen at a sports game. But really, for every one that happens at a sports game, there are probably 100 other things that happen to people going about their daily lives like Jay was.
“He wasn’t doing anything sporty at the time. He was just hanging out with his friends, laughing and just didn’t stand a chance without a defibrillator.”
There are currently only 48 devices in Rugby, but some are inside buildings such as schools that have set hours.
Thanks to discounts arranged by the Sands charity and another foundation that has contacted her, Naomi expects each device to cost around £1,000 for the defibrillator, back panel and vandal-proof casing.
“If we get £10,000, that should mean we could get ten and then pick ten locations,” Naomi said.
“I’m pretty determined it’s going to be outdoor venues. We don’t want them stuck in school receptions and things like that because that wouldn’t have helped Jamie at all.”
“We talked to the university and they are happy to have one on their wall. We talked to the council about having one at junction 1, but outside because obviously teenagers spend a lot of time there.
“And Rugby Free School. They have one inside the building, but again we want one outside so it’s accessible no matter what time it is.”
“The council is open to any suggestions. We’ll go ahead and get as many as we can.”
He also thanked the “incredible” staff at the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit that Naomi and the rest of Jamie’s family were able to spend time with him before he died.
“Jamie had five 1-1 nurses in the hospital,” Naomi said.
“Everyone came over on their day off the day before we lost Jamie, just to see him.
Leicester Mercury/Chris Gordon)
“We were told that Jamie still had brain function as of January 4, which in our minds makes us feel like he could hear us and feel us touching him, holding his hand and sleeping in bed next to him.”
A shrine of flowers, candles and heartfelt messages has been lovingly created in the small green space on Oval Road where she suddenly fell ill.
Jamie’s funeral will be held at Rainsbrook Crematorium in Hillmorton on February 22.
The service is already packed with 120 family and friends who have RSVP’d.
Naomi said, “It’s going to be a happy funeral, not a sad one. Jamie would hate the idea of everyone being sad.”
“Everyone will be wearing black hoodies in honor of Jay because that’s all he ever wore!
“It’s not black as something really sad or mourning, it’s just because that’s what Jay wore and he wanted everyone to be comfortable.”
To donate to the fundraising campaign, visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ourjay .
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.