Family launches fundraiser to bring scores of defibrillators to Rugby after tragic death of much-loved teenager

Jamie is remembered as a kind, loving young man who made his friends and family proud

Jamie on holiday.
Jamie on holiday.

A Rugby family has launched a fundraiser which could result in countless lives across Rugby being saved following the tragic death of 18-year-old Jamie Rees earlier this month.

On New Year's Day Rugby College student Jamie was spending time with his friends in Hillmorton when, without warning, he suffered a cardiac arrest.

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His friends did all they could to save him - but with no public defibrillator nearby, they had to rely on CPR.

Jamie not long before he passed away.

One friend and a friend's father performed CPR, managing to bring Jamie back to life.

Mother Naomi Rees-Issitt said: "The police were there within 12 minutes and they took over with the CPR.

"There was a delay because the ambulance had to come from Coventry and it took them over 20 minutes to arrive.

"We were told that was more than 13 minutes longer than their target for code red calls.

"If they had been in Rugby I think it would have been very different. I think that's important to say"

Despite heroic efforts at CPR, Jamie's brain had been so starved of oxygen that he never woke up, and he died in hospital on January 5.

Naomi said: "I was in Canada at the time but I rushed back and got home the next morning so I could be with Jamie.

"They told us that his brain had been starved of oxygen in those 15 minutes and, as it stood, he'd only had a 5 per cent chance to survival.

"We were then told that, if there had been a defibrillator nearby, that would have gone up to 75 per cent.

"That means that if he had been in the town centre he would likely have survived.

"We are so grateful to Jamie's friend and the father who performed CPR. They were heroic, and what they did meant that we could spend some days with Jamie before he passed away.

"His friends are lovely, they were all on a plumbing course together and they were planning to set up a plumbing business.

"They're still going to do that, and Jamie will still be involved, at least by name."

Jamie is remembered by many as a kind, loving young man.

A tree on Oval Road, near to the spot where he went into cardiac arrest, has been covered in tributes to him.

Jamie had signed the Organ Donor's Register three times and, as one final act of kindness, his organs have been donated to five people, including at least two children.

Now the family has launched a fundraiser to have as many defibrillators as possible installed across the town in the hopes of saving lives.

And the JustGiving fundraiser (visit bit.ly/3fTUfBe) has exceeded all expectations, raising £3,690 so far.

Naomi said: "The response has been overwhelming.

"An electrical firm in Rugby has arranged to get hold of defibrillators for no charge, so all we need to do is raise funds for the vandal-proof cases which allow them to be installed outside so they're accessible to everyone.

"These cases cost £495.00 each and, because Lloyds TSB have agreed to double whatever donations we receive, we've already raised enough to have 14 defibrillators installed across the town.

"If we could get to £10,000 in total that would mean 20 defibrillators, that would be an amazing achievement."

Naomi said Brownsover and Newbold councillor Wayne Rabin got in touch when he learned about the fundraiser and has been helping.

Cllr Rabin is presently working to compile an online map of all the defibrillators in the area, which when complete, would allow people to find their nearest one quickly and then call 999 to get the pass code to release it from its case.

Naomi said: "The message here is that this can happen at any time and in any place.

"There's been a lot of awareness when it comes to people suffering cardiac arrest when playing sports but this really can happen at any time.

"We've been told that Jamie likely had an underlying heart condition that caused this.

"At the time he was just relaxing with his friends - he wasn't doing anything that elevated his heart rate.

"We would love to see defibrillators across the town.

"One target is to get one outside Rugby College, where Jamie was studying - and at Junction 1, which he and his friends loved to go to.

"If this saves just one life it will be worth it."

To make a donation, or to learn more, visit: bit.ly/3fTUfBe