Heartbroken mum of boy, 14, who died from rare heart condition wants his death to save others

The mum of a teenage boy who died suddenly from a rare heart condition says she wants his death to save others.

Danielle Bradley’s 14-year-old son, Jordan O’Neill, died in hospital less than 24 hours after he began experiencing severe back pain.

Doctors initially thought he may have had a stroke, but tests revealed the ‘happy and healthy’ teenager had actually suffered an aortic dissection – a tear in the wall of the major artery carrying blood out of the heart.

He died the following evening following unsuccessful surgery.

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Aortic dissection is a rare condition that commonly affects people above the age of 60.

Symptoms are considered to be similar to a heart attack, such as shortness of breath and sudden severe chest or upper back pain.

Danielle says she did not know anything about the condition prior to her son’s tragic death, and now wants to raise awareness to help save the lives of others.

The 35-year-old, from north Manchester, became concerned when her son complained of a ‘ripping sensation’ in his chest on the evening of June 30.

Tests at hospital revealed Jordan had a damaged aorta and he was transferred to Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital for surgery.

Danielle Bradley with her son Jordan

Danielle was unable to stay with him due to coronavirus restrictions in place at the hospital, but was told the operation would take about 14 hours.

However, doctors phoned her on the evening of July 1 to deliver the devastating news that Jordan had passed away.

“It was horrendous,” said Danielle, 35.

“If someone is poorly then you expect it, but he was snatched away in just a matter of hours.

“It still doesn’t feel real. Jordan was so loving and kind and had lots of friends.

“He had all of his life ahead of him, but it was taken in the worst way possible.

“It was so unexpected. My boy was healthy and happy.

Jordan was taken to hospital after he complained of suffering severe back pain

“The surgeon said that in his 30 years of being a surgeon, he has never seen an aortic dissection in a child and we might never know the reason why.

“This is something that happens in 60 to 80 year olds, not healthy children.”

Some underlying health conditions can make an aortic dissection more likely, however, Danielle says Jordan did not have any that she was aware of.

Following his death, the teenager’s DNA was tested against 40 known genetic conditions, but all came back negative.

In a desperate search for answers, Danielle contacted a leading US researcher into aortic dissections.

She has since been told that her son’s DNA will be used in a research programme aiming to identify the genes that lead to the condition.

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Danielle hopes Jordan’s experience will raise awareness about the life-threatening condition and ultimately save lives.

She is now forming a charity, named THINK JORDAN AORTIC UK, in her son’s memory to help educate people about the signs of aortic dissections.

“I want my son to save the lives of others,” Danielle explained.

“It could happen to somebody else’s child and I don’t want that.

“One of the medics at hospital told me that sometimes someone has to die in order to save the lives of others.”

A GoFundMe page has also been set up to raise funds for the charity.

You can donate to the fundraising page here.

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