Sunderland student struck by Sudden Adult Death syndrome at party

An ambulance outside Sunderland Royal Hospital's Accident and Emergency department
An ambulance outside Sunderland Royal Hospital's Accident and Emergency department
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A STUDENT died after collapsing at a party, an inquest was told.

Alexander Thomas Bowen Smith was taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital after he was found unconscious at a house in Otto Terrace, Thornhill, on the evening of December 9 last year.

Friends called an ambulance and paramedics carried out cardiopulmonary resuscitation as he was taken to hospital.

But despite the efforts of medics, the 18-year-old died at 1.35am the following day.

An inquest in Sunderland heard toxicology reports showed Mr Smith, from Teesside, had not taken any drugs or drank excessively.

And a police investigation ruled out suspicious circumstances or third party involvement.

Coroner’s officer Neville Dixon told the hearing at the city’s coroner’s court that Mr Smith had been diagnosed with heart condition Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which can cause dizziness and fainting.

But tests by cardiac pathologist Dr Mary Sheppard, based at the Royal Brompton Hospital in Sheffield, showed Mr Smith’s heart had been normal. A report by pathologist Dr Sidiq Tijani concluded the Middlesbrough College student was a victim of Sudden Adult Death syndrome (SAD).

Coroner Derek Winter recorded a verdict of natural causes.

He added: “This is a naturally occurring disease running its natural cause, albeit very rare.”

Speaking after the hearing, parents Jenny and Jeff Smith, from Little Ayton, near Middlesbrough, said: “It was sudden, tragic and very sad.

“We are very, very upset.”

SAD syndrome generally affects young people from their teens to early thirties.

Research suggests it might cause 500 deaths a year in the UK.

Verdict: natural causes.