Paralympic relay role for proud Tony EamesBy Jonathan Low
September 11, 2012
A man diagnosed with a rare heart condition after suffering numerous attacks as a child was chosen to start the London leg of the Paralympic torch relay .
Tony Eames, 32, who lives in Finchampstead Road, Wokingham, suffers from Congenital Long QT Syndrome (Sudden Death Syndrome) and has to take drugs every day to prevent sudden cardiac blackouts.
However, it could have been so different for Tony, who had heart problems earlier in life which were not discovered by doctors.
He said: “From the age of three onwards, I had between two and three hundred attacks, but the problem wasn’t diagnosed.
“For eight years my family doctor treated my fainting attacks as epilepsy and attention-seeking panic attacks and it was suggested that I be sent to a psychiatric institution, something my parents refused to allow.
“It was not until I had a big attack did it make them realise that it was a heart condition.”
Tony had a pacemaker fitted at the age of 18 and now works with the charity CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young), which works with and supports those affected by cardiac arrest in young people, such as bereaved parents and relatives.
The charity aims to raise awareness of the fact 12 people in the UK die every week from undiagnosed heart conditions.
Tony added: “Not a lot of people know what children with heart conditions go through.
“I work with CRY, and talk to people, like boys who are worried about having a pacemaker fitted.”
After nominating himself to take part, he started the relay at the Shree Swaminarayan Hindu temple in Willesden.
He said: “I wanted to prove to people and show everyone if you put your mind to something you can do it.
“I have never run 800 metres in my life but I managed it and it went really well.”
Meanwhile, with the Paralympics now well underway, Tony believes the Games will have ‘massively helped’ to raise the profile of disabled sport.
He said: “They will reinvigorate the country.
“There have been lots of ‘wows’ from spectators over the Games and they have supported athletes with incredible spirit.”
However, Tony admitted it was important to build on the legacy created by the Olympics and Paralympics.
“It’s important to develop those at the grass-roots, and make sure the schools get the funding so they can put on PE lessons.
“The time needs to be allocated to children to try the various sports and show them what a positive impact sport can have on your health.”