Gemma’s story

Gemma was my first born grandchild. She brought so much joy to our lives.
We have been left with a big hole in my family’s lives since she was taken from us.

dad-n-gemGemma was the eldest of three children. She was a very healthy, beautiful, fun loving girl who always put other people before herself. She didn’t have any medical problems, until she started to have seizures at the age of 14. After her second seizure she underwent an EEG (electroencephalogram). This records ‘brainwaves’, the electrical activity of the brain. Once the results came back they confirmed that Gemma had epilepsy. The doctors diagnosed this as Myoclonic, which are seizures that happen soon after waking.

Gemma never knew when she was going to have a seizure, nor did she know after she’d had one. When coming around after a seizure she would be very emotional and tired. Her seizures were not frequent, and also they were never the same.

Gemma left high school and went on to go to college, where she completed a Level 3 Childcare Course. After this, she applied to the De Vere Academy to take part in a hospitality course, for which she was accepted.  Gemma found out that she was pregnant, and was so very excited about becoming a mum.

Unexpectedly on the 2nd of November 2011, just two days before her 18th birthday, Gemma’s family discovered that she had tragically passed away after a seizure in her sleep. Gemma was 19 weeks pregnant at this time.

At no time were Gemma or her parents ever informed about SUDEP or its risks. They knew the risks of epilepsy, for example, having a seizure whilst in the bath, or falling during a seizure, but SUDEP was NEVER mentioned. They were also not informed that there are alarms that can be obtained that alert other people in the house when a fit is taking place. It should be standard practice that this information and the alarms are given to epilepsy patients and their families.

Gemma and her family were unaware of all of the facts about epilepsy and SUDEP. IF THIS INFORMATION WAS GIVEN, GEMMA MAY STILL BE WITH HER LOVING FAMILY.

Arthur Wilkes