Scunthorpe mum discovers holes in heart at screening organised by grieving parents

Bereaved parents Steve and Gill Ayling with Georgia Guy (centre)
Steve and Gill Ayling with Georgia Guy (centre) Credit: ITV

A mother-of-two has thanked the parents of a 31-year-old man who died from an undetected heart condition for saving her life.

Georgia Guy, 25, only found out she had several holes in her heart thanks to a screening session organised by Nathan Bryan's parents Steve and Gill Ayling.

They started campaigning for heart screening to be made available for anyone under 35 after Mr Bryan died suddenly at home in February 2019.

Ms Guy, from Scunthorpe, who will have an operation to repair her heart next month, said: "I have got two very young children and if I hadn't known about the holes in my heart I could have had a stroke and died. Goodness knows what would have become of them.

"Gill and Steve saved me and they do this miracle work but they don't expect any gratitude for it - they just want to help people. Nathan saved my life too."

Nathan Bryan died from an undiagnosed heart condition in 2019. Credit: Family handout

Mr Bryan died from sudden adult death syndrom (SADS) after he was unable to get screened, even though four members of his family, including his sister, had been affected by heart problems.

His parents have since campaigned for services to be extended and have raised money to put on sessions in Scunthorpe.

"We don't want this to happen to anyone else and Nathan would have been over the moon about what happened with Georgia," said Mr Ayling.

Mrs Ayling added: "We go to Nathan's grave every day and we tell him everything, all about Georgia."

The couple, who have raised money for the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young, said it costs £6,500 to put on a day's screening for around 100 people.

The charity's chief executive Dr Steven Cox said: "Screenings like the one organised by Gill and Steve Ayling detect one in every 300 people with a heart problem, but it shouldn't be up to the charity and bereaved families to raise money to save other lives."

Ms Guy added: "The fight for people's health shouldn't be their fight, it should be the NHS doing this."

Figures from Cardiac Risk in the Young show 12 young people die every week from an undetected heart conditon. Around 80% of them show no symptoms.

Gill and Steve Ayling will meet public health minister Andrea Leadsom next month to call for heart screening to be made available to anyone under the age of 35.

A spokesperson for Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Our sympathies are with the family for their loss. Congenital heart disease screening has been part of the physical examination of newborn babies and again at six to eight weeks since 2014.

“The UK National Screening Committee has reviewed screening young people for sudden cardiac death in 2019 and decided there was insufficient evidence to support a recommendation to introduce whole population screening in the UK.

“This issue is kept under review and we remain focused on the rapid identification and care of people who are likely to be at risk of sudden cardiac death due to a familial link or have had symptoms. Training the general population in the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and defibrillators is also vital.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...