Grieving Edinburgh dad said son’s undiagnosed heart condition had ‘no warning signs’

A grieving Scots dad has opened up on the heartbreak of losing his teenage son to an undiagnosed heart condition and has said that there were “no warning signs” prior to his death.

Cristopher Cowe, from Edinburgh, was just 15 when he passed away from myocarditis – which is a rare cardiovascular disease that can reduce the heart’s ability to pump and cause rapid or irregular heartbeats.

His dad, Ross, said that he displayed no symptoms before he died just weeks before his 16th birthday.

He told Edinburgh Live: “In Christopher’s case, there weren’t any warning signs, like chest pain, difficulty breathing or anything like that. There wasn’t anything for us, as his parents, to pick up on.”

Christopher’s family and friends doing the Kiltwalk in 2021

The 49-year-old is hoping to prevent others from going through the heartbreak of losing their young children to heart conditions.

He has bravely put his own foot forward to take part in this year’s Edinburgh Kiltwalk to raise money for the Christopher Cowe Memorial Fund, which is a part of the Cardiac Risk in the Young charity fundraising efforts.

He added: “So, this has to be the focus for us – we are looking to raise money to do those heart screenings and to raise awareness too.”

The fund was set up in the loving memory of Ross’ son Christopher, who attended Balerno High School, and Ross is hoping to use it to organize a heart screening event there to prevent other students from suffering from undiagnosed heart conditions.

A simple ECG test can detect potential heart conditions in the young; however, it is natural not to consider it as most teenagers do not show any symptoms.

Christopher died of an undiagnosed heart condition at the age of just 15
Christopher died of an undiagnosed heart condition at the age of just 15

Ross has been in touch with the local MSPs to put the issue of undiagnosed heart conditions in the young on the authorities’ radar – and not only to provide more defibrillators but also to promote essential and potentially life-saving preventive screenings.

Reflecting on the importance of preventive heart screenings, Ross told said: “Somebody said to me six or seven months after Christopher passed that we do MOTs on our cars every year without thinking about it, but we don’t put enough emphasis on checking what is probably the most important organ in our body.

“It’s not until something happens that people tend to think about it.”

Christopher was an active young man who engaged with the local community and “brought joy to lives of everyone who knew him”, and doing the Kiltwalk in his memory means a lot to Ross. He said: “It means keeping Christopher’s memory alive, keeping that legacy alive.

“We hope to get more people involved, more of those who knew Christopher, so we can share memories and experiences we all had with him. It is an opportunity to continue to remember Christopher.”

And it is not only the family members who are dedicated to keeping Christopher’s memory alive. Remembering the great friend, three students from Balerno High School will be completing a tandem skydive in St Andrews on May 8. The brave trio, Abby, Andrew and Josh, are aiming to raise £1,500 for Christopher’s fund and have already reached nearly 80 per cent of their goal.

While the family’s neighbor and dear friend, Andrew, will be attempting to complete the Edinburgh Marathon in three hours and 30 minutes on May 8, they also fundraising in the 15-year-old’s precious memory.

Over £4,000 has now been raised through the Christopher Cowe Memorial Fund that was set up in July 2021, and you can support it here.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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