TOBE-Heartsafe (TOBE) held its first cardiac screening event at Oundle School last Term. Forty-eight pupils took part and were screened by expert cardiologists from St Barts Hospital and The John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, alongside specialist cardiac physiologists and nurses. The on-site screening of a BP check and twelve lead ECG aims to detect any underlying cardiac condition. The cardiologist’s expertise is essential to reduce incidence, and differentiate between pathological and physiological cardiac changes, particularly for those involved in sport.
A new not-for-profit organization, TOBE is on a mission to provide cardiac screening, CPR training and defibrillators for schools and sports clubs. TOBE was created out of a tragedy in 2019 after 22-year-old Toby (who was known to friends and family as Tobe) was found dead on his bedroom floor by his mother. At the time of his death, he was fitter and healthier than he’d ever been. His death was caused by an undiagnosed heart condition and was registered as Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome. The tragedy brought together a team of people and specialists who decided to form a Community Interest Company to extend screen and training services beyond just the few who can afford to pay for them, building in a like-for-like plan to offer services free of charge to those in the local community.
The team will return to Oundle School in the Summer Term to screen more pupils and launch the community part of the TOBE plan.
Andrew Tobin (OO), whose children attend Oundle, confirms the importance of early diagnosis. “I was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy at the age of 16 while at Oundle when my father was diagnosed with the same condition. Because I was alerted to the condition (which had and still has no obvious symptoms), I have been able to have it regularly monitored ever since, avoiding high intensity sports. Over the years it has progressed and I have a lot of reassurance from the diagnosis and monitoring I now have, enabling me to lead an active life. I’m delighted that Oundle School are helping facilitate this important programme as early diagnosis is key when there are no symptoms.”
Tobe’s mother and co-founder of TOBE-Heartsafe, Sam Richards said: “Over the past three years since Toby’s death I have been keen to tell his story and help to raise awareness and encourage people to get screened. Every week in the UK, around twelve young people under the age of 35 die suddenly from a previously undiagnosed heart condition and 80% of these deaths will occur with no prior symptoms. We’ve seen in Italy, where screening is mandatory for all young people engaged in organised sport, a reduction in the incidence of young sudden cardiac death by 90%. We want to expand screening across the UK, and we chose Oundle School as the first location because of its strong links with the local community and sports clubs. We are hugely grateful to everyone at the school for their support for our mission.”
The TOBE team have over 40 years of experience within healthcare, including cardiology specialists, sport and fitness. The consultant cardiologists work across leading hospitals including St Bart’s, Great Ormond Street Hospital and The John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
Rachel Makhzangi, Director of Communications at Oundle said: “TOBE-Heartsafe was initially brought to our awareness by one of our parents. We were delighted to help support its charitable and community aims through hosting a screening programme here at Oundle which our parents could book directly with TOBE-Heartsafe. We look forward to supporting a further screening event in May which in turn will facilitate a wider roll out of the programme into the local Oundle community.”
To donate to the community programme or find out more, go to: tobe-heartsafe.org.uk.