Family of boy with heart condition help fundraise for school defibrillator

Worcester News: LIFESAVER: James Vinson holding Pitmaston Primary School's defibrillator with mum Alison, one-year-old sister Emilie, and deputy headteacher Kate Wilcock. LIFESAVER: James Vinson holding Pitmaston Primary School's defibrillator with mum Alison, one-year-old sister Emilie, and deputy headteacher Kate Wilcock.

THE mother of a young boy recently diagnosed with a hereditary heart condition has said her mind is more at ease now his school has been given a defibrillator.

Nine-year-old James Vinson, from Abbey Close, St John's, was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy - a condition where the heart muscle becomes thickened - only a month ago.

His mum Alison quickly swung into action and organised a meeting with his teachers at Pitmaston Primary School who agreed to part fund the lifesaving equipment.

After a kind donation from Redditch Heart Safe and the fundraising efforts of Mrs Vinson's friends, family and work colleagues, the school on Malvern Road was handed the defibrillator yesterday.

Mrs Vinson, a paramedic for West Midlands Ambulance Service, said: "It's absolutely great because I know with the condition and how it works that, if anything happens to James, if he can get early defibrillation and CPR it means there is a higher chance of him surviving a cardiac arrest.

"I'm concerned all the time but it puts my mind at rest a little more when he is at school because I know the equipment is here.

"Especially because he is quite active doing PE and running around with his friends."

James said he was pleased to see the equipment, which costs just over £1,000, in his school.

The year 4 pupil said: "I think it is an excellent thing to have.

"I had to speak to my class about it and they had lots of questions for me."

Deputy head Kate Wilcock explained the defibrillator will be placed in the school entrance where it can be easily accessed.

Twelve members of staff ranging from senior management to dinner ladies will be trained how to use it by Mrs Vinson and Dave Harford, community first responder, and staff have also been having CPR lessons this week.

Mrs Wilcock said: "I think every school should have one.

"There's the possibility you could be saving someone's life and as soon as James' condition was brought to our attention we have raised funds as quickly as possible through a non uniform day and our school fund.

"In terms of the defibrillator, it is not just about James but the whole school community who could benefit, from parents and grandparents to children and teachers.

"I would like to thank Robert Underwood from Redditch Heart Safe and everyone who has fundraised for it including parents, Alison's family and the school fund."

The Department for Education announced plans this week to allow schools to purchase defibrillators at a reduced cost in time for the start of the autumn term and Mrs Vinson, aged 30, welcomed the news.

"I think it's absolutely fantastic.

"People think cardiac arrest only affects older people but you only have to look at James and footballer Fabrice Muamba who had a heart attack during a match.

"A lot of the time younger people won't be aware they have these conditions."

Mrs Vinson and Mr Harford said they would be happy to supply training to any school who have bought a defibrillator.

For more information email alison.vinson@wmas.nhs.co.uk.

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