Tuesday 12 December 2017

Family of man who died of SADS while scuba-diving warn about ‘silent killer’

Colin Callanan from Innishannon, Co. Cork
Colin Callanan from Innishannon, Co. Cork
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

THE family of a young man who died from Sudden Adult/ Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS) while scuba diving in Thailand have warned of what they called "a silent killer".

It was first thought that Colin Callanan (29) from Inishannon, Co Cork, drowned in a freak scuba diving accident but it later emerged that his death in April 2013 was due to SADS.

The condition is usually triggered by an undiagnosed, underlying cardiac condition.

Now, Colin’s mother, Marie, has launched a health screening campaign in her son’s memory to plead for all Irish secondary students to be screened for SADS.

“We are using his first anniversary to create awareness of this silent killer of our young people and also to fundraise for CRY, a charity that offers free screening and counselling to families affected by SADS,” Marie explained.

She said that the importance of such health screening was underlined by the results of one school programme launched at the request of the family.

“St Brogan’s College in Bandon screened their students at our request in January and a number were found to be at risk and were sent for further investigation,” she said.

Four children were sent for further assessment and, in one case, an entire extended family is being checked for SADS as a precautionary measure.

“Now, our wish for ways to combat this condition is for all secondary students in Ireland to be screened, for cardiac-pulmonary resuscitation and first response schemes to be introduced in all Transition Year programmes and for portable defibrillators to be part of first aid kits in all community and sports clubs.”

She said that such measures will undoubtedly help other families avoid their tragic loss.

“We need more families that have lost loved ones to get behind us and raise awareness. The best way to do this is by media exposure,” she said.

Colin was hailed by his family and friends as “a wonderful person with a heart of gold”.


He worked for AMS, an Australian air-conditioning firm and, during a work trip, had taken time off to go scuba diving.

The place he was staying in, Koh Tao – located  700km from Bangkok – is famed for the quality of its shallow water diving.

Colin had been based in Perth for six years but had previously worked for Eli Lilly in Cork.

A keen sportsman, he played both GAA and soccer in Cork.

“He loved life, he loved his job, he loved his child and he loved his family,” Marie said.


Irish Independent

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