Mum said goodnight to healthy teen daughter – minutes later she was dead

Eighteen-year-old Amber Rummels had the world at her feet.

A top pupil on her hospitality course at Cardiff and Vale College, she was working hard as a waitress and had a large group of friends.

Mum Anita Lewis talks with pride about her "vibrant, outgoing, beautiful" teenage daughter.

But all that was lost in just a matter of minutes one night in December last year, report WalesOnline.

Anita walked in to find her daughter unconscious in the bath just moments after saying goodnight at their home in Llandaff, Cardiff.

Despite efforts by her mum and paramedics to resuscitate, Amber died in hospital four days later.

Now the devastated mum is concerned that her two younger children – India, 14, and 12-year-old Drake – are also ticking timebombs after learning that Amber died from Sudden Adult Death Syndrome.

The 18-year-old had just come home from a long shift working at the college's restaurant when tragedy struck.

Her charity worker mum had said goodnight and gone to bed, but was woken by her dog whining at the end of the bed.

She got up to see to him but couldn't understand what was happening when the light wouldn't switch on and the house was in darkness.

What is Sudden Death Syndrome

Every year in the UK at least 620 young people aged 35 or under die suddenly from an undiagnosed cardiac condition.

Sudden death syndrome (SDS) is an umbrella term used for the many different causes of cardiac arrest in young people.

In about 1 in every 20 cases of sudden cardiac death and up to 1 in 5 young sudden cardiac deaths, no definite cause of death can be found, even after drugs have been excluded and an expert cardiac pathologist has examined the heart for structural abnormalities.

The conditions responsible for SDS cause a cardiac arrest by bringing on a ventricular arrhythmia, even though the person has no disease affecting the structure of the heart.

One of the ways we could prevent some of these tragic deaths is by screening young people, particularly those involved in heavy exercise.

The charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) screens more than 20,000 young people a year, for free.

Amber's family are organising a fundraising night as a way of saying thank you to the charity 2 Wish Upon A Star for their support. It will take place at Canton RFC on July 20.

"The house is never in darkness, so I knew something was wrong," explains 44-year-old Anita.

"I went downstairs to find a torch and my worst fears were realised. There was water from the bathroom dropping through the light switch in the hallway.

"I knew that the bath had overflowed and something was very wrong."

Anita shouted to her son Drake, who was 11 at the time, to get a torch and the pair ran up the stairs to the bathroom.

"I banged on the door of the bathroom and shouted Amber's name three times," she recalls. "When I got no response I managed to open the door flicking the lock with a pen. What I saw will never leave me for the rest of my days.

"My daughter was lying sideways in the bath and her head was completely under the water.

"The taps were still running so I turned them off and got her out of the bath. I desperately started doing CPR and called on Drake to call for an ambulance. He was amazing and they were there within minutes."

Paramedics got Amber's heart started and she was taken to the intensive care unit at the University Hospital of Wales, but she died four days later after the family took the painful decision to turn off her ventilator.

For months the family didn't have any explanation about what caused her death, but they were recently told that pathology reports found she had died of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome.

After her death, Anita and Amber's dad Steve were amazed by the impact Amber had made on her friends, work colleagues and lecturers.

"We were surprised and amazed by how much she had touched people's lives," says Anita. "We only found out on her death that she was a huge support to several of her friends who suffered with low self-esteem and mental health issues.

"She was always there to support them over the phone on face to face. Several of her friends have found it almost impossible to get through each day without her.

"The college staff couldn’t speak highly enough of her and have named an award in her honour that of hospitality student of the year award.

"The award is a glass shooting star which sits proudly in the main restaurant. My ex-husband and I will be present the first student with this award at their end of year awards evening something which I am so very proud of.

"She was doing so well in her studies that she was mentoring other students and also assisting one of her lecturers to gain his PGCE.

"Amber was off a place as a management student for Hospitality something that had never been award to any student on that course before.

"She would have gone on to also complete her PGCE and lecture at the college.

"She was an amazing young woman and while she was only 18, she has left a huge legacy."

Her mum is now determined to carry on in Amber's memory and to raise awareness of cardiac risk in young people.

The family are waiting to be screened and tested.

Anita says: "I had heard of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome before, but not paid much attention to it. I realise now that whatever I would have done in that bathroom wouldn't have helped. There was nothing that could have been done.

"There can be signs and symptoms, like feeling tired, dizzy and exhausted, and there are tests and screenings that can be done, which is why we are all getting tested as a family.

"It has left me so scared and worried about my other daughter and son. I can't lose another child."

For more information about the charity CRY, click  here .

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