Derby Paralympian Leon Taylor in call for cardiac screening to prevent deaths from undiagnosed heart conditions
DERBY'S Paralympic star Leon Taylor has called on the Government to make cardiac screening in all young people a requirement by law.
The 38-year-old – who carried the Olympic flame in Derby last summer – said he was extremely alarmed that 12 people, aged 35 or under, die every week in the UK from an undiagnosed heart defect.
The Government policy on cardiac screening is that it should not be mandatory.
But Leon, of Chaddesden, insisted all youngsters should be screened as it would lead to hundreds of lives being saved each year.
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The footballer – who has cerebral palsy and represented Team GB at Beijing 2008 – said: "It really is unacceptable that around 600 apparently fit and healthy young people die suddenly each year from previously undiagnosed heart conditions in the UK, when there is evidence to show that screening can save lives.
"The policy of screening not being offered to young people must be changed without delay."
Leon is not alone in calling for a change in policy.
UK charity Cardiac Risk In The Young (CRY) called on the Government to change its policy after Premier League footballer Fabrice Muamba suffered a heart attack on the pitch in March last year.
Leon says he is a huge supporter of the charity – and has raised around £1,500 for CRY by allowing people to be pictured with his Olympic torch in return for a donation.
Leon said he was delighted with how much he has managed to raise so far.
He said: "On hearing about the fantastic work of CRY, I was keen to get involved. I am really pleased with how the fund-raising has gone so far and I look forward to doing more in the future."
CRY has launched an e-petition calling on the Government to make heart screening compulsory in young people.
The petition currently has over 7,000 signatures.
It says: "Do we want to be a nation that tolerates the deaths of 12 young people a week with nothing being done to try to prevent these tragedies?
"Such deaths are devastating for thousands of people every year, including parents, siblings, children, grandparents, friends and the local community. The Government must immediately and comprehensively review its policy on cardiac screening in young people."
To sign the petition, go to epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/31819.