Student 'died of broken heart after learning of friend's death'
Published 25/08/2011 | 09:00
A student who spent years battling a double life-threatening condition died of a broken heart just hours after hearing that a close friend had also passed away, her mother said.
Yasmina Sugliano, a promising creative arts student, was in hospital being treated for a chest infection when she was given the news that her friend Portia Jones had died.
The 25-year-old, who had battled with cystic fibrosis and a heart condition since childhood, is said to have drifted into unconsciousness and died herself a few hours later.
According to her mother, Kay, who was at her bedside, her grief at the news may have affected her heart, triggering a dangerously irregular heartbeat which killed her in the early hours of Friday morning.
Despite being in hospital she had hoped to be well enough to attend a music festival and even set off on a Caribbean holiday.
Mrs Sugliano said that the two young women had become close through their shared battles with cystic fibrosis, the incurable genetic condition in which mucus builds up in the lungs and other organs.
They met in hospital around two years ago while both were receiving treatment and kept in touch, supporting each other.
Miss Sugliano also suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart's muscle wall thins, making it difficult to pump blood efficiently.
“I think she got such a shock over Portia's death that her heart went into a dangerous arrhythmia, which is an irregular heartbeat, and she didn't recover,” said Mrs Sugliano, who also lost her father in December last year.
“She looked so peaceful and happy.
“I didn't notice it at first and when I looked at her face, I was amazed at how serene she was.
"I sincerely believe she saw my mum and dad and Portia waiting for her.
“I believe they are up there together now.”
Despite her condition which prompted regular spells in hospital, Miss Sugliano had moved away from the family home in Crawley, West Sussex, to London and was studying at the University for the Creative Arts, where she was involved in staging fashion shows.
She described herself on her MySpace page as a “free spirit”.
Last week she learnt that her friend Mrs Jones, 23, had died. She had been on a waiting list for a double lung transplant at the time.
“Portia and Yasmina understood each other more than anything else, as each knew the trials of having cystic fibrosis,” said Mrs Sugliano.
"They pulled each other up when one was down. They loved each other very much and talked about all the things they would do when Portia had a double lung transplant. My baby is gone and the pain will never leave."
Last night Mrs Jones’s parents, from Chessington, Surrey, were too upset to speak about their loss.
Last year she appeared in her local media alongside her husband, Dale, as he ran the London marathon to raise money for cystic fibrosis sufferers.
In an open letter featured on her local radio station she spoke movingly about her condition, explaining how she was grateful for every day she was alive.
Speaking of how her condition had become more severe as she grew up she went on: “Now I fight the biggest battle with CF every day.
“Until a year ago I was completely mobile and independent, although my independence isn't like anyone else's. My definition of independence means not needing Oxygen all day, every day.”
She added that she hoped the transplant would transform her life.