Our last words to Emma

Jayne and Natalie know the devastation of heart disease. 

Emma, Jayne’s daughter and Natalie’s best friend, was just 13 when she died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart condition.

 Jayne remembers:

“It was the 12 March,  a Friday. I can still remember it to this day. Emma had come home from school as normal – she went straight to the kitchen and ate a bag of crisps. 

Our last conversation was so ordinary. I gave Emma two pounds to go out, but asked for some money back to buy milk.

I turned around and said to her: ‘Have a good evening. I love you. Don’t be late.’

I never spoke to her again.

Emma Carter school portraitEmma went to her friend’s house that evening. At ten to ten I got a call from my daughter Tanya to say Emma had collapsed. I went straight to the house and saw all the flashing lights. I could see this big policeman standing there.

I pushed my way in and saw her lying on the kitchen floor, with the paramedics around her.

But it was too late.

After she died we found out she had a problem with one of the valves in her heart. But to look at her you would never know there was anything wrong and she had never been ill.

Natalie recalls:

"We had a stupid little teenage argument about a boy at school.

The last thing I said to Emma was: “Don’t call me later.”

She collapsed and died that night. 

I found out afterwards that Emma and our friends had all been sitting round a table – they were listening to music and mucking around. Then suddenly Emma fell off her chair. She fell to the ground.

Emma was really into sports. She wanted to be a PE teacher. We were best friends. We met when we were eight, and at secondary school we became inseparable.

She was my rock. When she died, I had to go back to classes with an empty seat beside me. I’ve kept all her stuff. I still have the last Christmas card she gave me, our ‘best friends’ necklace and her French book.

I hate remembering that we argued. We would have been fine the next day."

How our research is fighting back

We fund several research projects to improve the way we diagnose and treat heart conditions like Emma's.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham have found scarring on the hearts of some people with valve problems. They are looking at whether magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) could be used to detect the scarring and help doctors manage the condition better.

More research is needed to make sure dangerous heart conditions are spotted in time so people receive essential treatment, which is why your donations are so important.