Family and friends of young Derry man Peter O’Hagan raise over £5k for Epilepsy Action NI in his memory
The family and friends of popular young local man have raised an incredible £5,370 for Epilepsy Action NI in his memory.
Relatives and friends of the young Derry man handed over the cheque for the money they raised in Peter O’Hagan’s memory to Epilepsy Action NI at a special event recently.
Peter passed away suddenly in May this year aged just 18 from SUDEP – Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy – and his family have been determined to raise awareness and highlight the risks ever since.
Margaret Doherty, Peter’s aunt, said: “We have been left to deal with the trauma and shock of Peter’s death and it is something that we will never get over.
“We miss him every second of every minute of every day. Our grief is still very raw, but as a family we want to raise awareness of epilepsy and especially of SUDEP.
“This is something that we never thought we would have to deal with. It isn’t talked about enough. Doctors also need to make patients aware of the risks, the triggers and how the risk could be reduced.
“If we can help any family by reading this then putting our story out in the public was worthwhile. Our Peter was a loving dad, son, brother, grandson and nephew. #forever18.”
Peter was diagnosed with epilepsy after a seizure just before Christmas 2019 when he was 17, and it had a huge impact on his life and his family. He had been training to be a joiner, but that had to be put on hold for health and safety reasons, because he couldn’t use the machinery as a result of his seizures.
Like most teenagers turning 17 he also wanted to learn to drive but after he was diagnosed with epilepsy he just wasn’t allowed behind the wheel.
Sadly, Peter never got to celebrate his beloved little daughter Ayda’s first birthday, an event he had made preparations for, but which fell the week after he passed away.
While there is no way to rule it out completely, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of SUDEP.
The most effective way to reduce the risk of SUDEP is to have as few seizures as possible, especially tonic-clonic seizures. Having fewer seizures also reduces the risk of death or injury from status epilepticus (prolonged seizures) or accidents.
While seizures can’t always be fully controlled, taking epilepsy medicines every day, exactly as they have been prescribed by your doctor is vital. If you don’t like your medicine or have side-effects, talk to your epilepsy specialist so they can make changes. It’s good to find out in advance what to do if you miss a dose of your medicine or have vomiting or diarrhoea after taking it.
Avoiding situations that could trigger seizures, where possible, is also important. Common triggers include missing a dose of epilepsy medicines, lack of sleep, stress and drinking too much alcohol. If your seizures are not fully controlled, ask to be referred to an epilepsy specialist for a review of your epilepsy and medicines. They may be able to suggest changes to your epilepsy medicines, or other treatment options.
If you have seizures while you sleep, as well as steps to reduce seizures, you could consider different sleeping arrangements so there is someone else in the room where you sleep who could help if you have a seizure. If not, then alarms or monitors could alert someone else if you have a seizure. People could also consider sleeping on their back or getting a safety pillow.
If anyone needs more information, you can call the Epilepsy Action Helpline on 0808 800 5050 or visit the Epilepsy Action website: www.epilepsy.org.uk/SUDEP