Deciding to set up a charity in Eloise's name was the easy bit, ticking all the boxes to actually see it come together has been the difficult part, but with the help of a great group of friends here we are. Having the foundation set up to honour Eloise is very special for us, we can only hope our tragedy will put the spotlight on WPW and prevent another family having to deal with the enormity of such a loss.
Eloise had only recently turned 15, we knew she had WPW, but she was considered an extremely low risk to any complications and more specifically becoming a victim of Sudden Cardiac Death. Alarmingly only a week prior to Eloise passing away she had a thorough consultation with a cardiologist and was again given the all clear to continue her active lifestyle, in particular swimming. Earlier that year Eloise swam at Age Nationals, which for Eloise was a dream come true. Training was hard and time consuming but she loved it and being a part of the team at Clayfield Aquatics made her so very happy, the pool was her second home. She was just starting to combat her greatest challenge - race day nerves, it was something Eloise struggled with since she was little, but things were starting to change. Most kids would have given the training away years before, but not Eloise, she stuck at it and the results were beginning to come her way. The day before Eloise passed away was very routine, just like so many others before that, she'd completed two 2 hour training sessions without any signs or symptoms of what was to come....
We will never know exactly why Eloise passed away on the night she did, for us there are still so many questions left unanswered. Why in her sleep? Why wasn't she symptomatic? Was she but the symptoms weren't recognised? What could we have done to prevent it from happening? Should she have been sleeping on a special mattress with an alarm? Should we have had a defibrillator at home? Should she have been allowed to swim at such a high level? So many questions...
If we can in anyway help prevent the passing of another young fit and seemingly healthy child/teenager or young adult, the Eloise Gannon Foundation has been a success, to do this in Eloise's name makes it all the more important for us. Our darling girl was far too young to go the way she did and it still seems so hard to believe that she has really gone.... Establishing the Eloise Gannon Foundation is our way of keeping Eloise's memory alive and to hopefully make a difference to others in the future.
One of our initial goals is to raise enough funds to get a Team Eloise Mobile Screening Van on the road. The aim is to provide quick and easy, non invasive ECG testing to kids and to raise the public awareness of the risks of Sudden Cardiac Death. Being undiagnosed with a potentially fatal condition is a frightening thought, if we can provide a service to screen our youth and potentially save a life we are on to something really positive.
We'd also love to see a registry established which tracks the incidence of sudden cardiac death in young athletes and ultimately the introduction of pre-participation screening programs for junior sport.
We need to start people talking and thinking about the implications WPW and other potentially life threatening arrhythmia's can have on families. Raising awareness is just the beginning.
I hope sometime soon you can be a part of our vision and make a difference. Here's to Team Eloise xx
Picture : Cousin Una, Eloise, Cousin Cara, Eloise's Sister Bronte and Cousin Niamh, forever a part of Team Eloise. Such a precious photo to us xx