Sunderland fan dies of meningitis – after family already lost two children to sleep apnoea

Paul Carruthers, right, with dad Ian (centre) and brother Stephen
Paul Carruthers, right, with dad Ian (centre) and brother Stephen
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A COUPLE mourning the loss of a third child told today how they are comforted by knowing their son’s death will help countless others.

Paul Carruthers, 32, from Ryhope, donated his organs, as was his wish, after he lost his brief battle with meningitis on Monday.

Ian and Sue Carruthers with their son Stephen.

Ian and Sue Carruthers with their son Stephen.

Having started to complain of headaches while watching England take on San Marino last Friday, the SAFC fanatic was taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital, where doctors immediately ran tests for the disease.

Paul, who suffered from a number of disabilities including a curved spine, epilepsy and Crouzon syndrome, quickly contracted septicaemia, and later that evening, suffered a massive heart attack.

By Monday morning, Paul’s family’s worst fears were realised when test showed their son was brain dead.

It was a devastating blow for parents Ian, 52, and Sue, 56, who lost their 21-year-old son Mark 12 years ago, before daughter Amanda, 24, died a year later, both due to sleep apnoea.

“Sometimes we don’t know how we are coping,” said Ian, who paid tribute to staff at the hospital.

“There’s an emptiness that you always feel.

“But Paul would always put your problems into perspective. If we were ever missing Mark or Amanda, he would say ‘do you think they would want you to be like that?’

“Now, because of that donor card, he’s helping a lot of people and that’s really helping us. We are so proud of him.”

Mum Sue recalls the moment Paul knew he wanted to become a donor.

“We watched a programme on TV a few months ago about donors and I said I’d do it, so he said he would too. That’s the kind of person he was,” she said.

Brother Stephen, who starred in Channel 4 show The Undateables, said he is struggling to come to terms with his brother gone.

“We used to do everything together.

“It’s hitting me hard but I don’t think it will sink in until the funeral.”

A regular at the Stadium of Light with his dad, football-mad Paul was desperate to know how England were doing, even as doctors began treating him.

“In the hospital he asked the score. I told him it was 8-0 and he said ‘get in’,” said Ian.

“We want everyone to come to his funeral in red and white and I’ll be watching the match today for him.”