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Inquest: "fit and healthy" 39-year-old died from Sudden Adult Death Syndrome

Inquest:

Wednesday 14 December 2022

Inquest: "fit and healthy" 39-year-old died from Sudden Adult Death Syndrome

Wednesday 14 December 2022


An inquest in Jersey has heard how a “fit and healthy” 39-year-old man died suddenly earlier this year with no obvious cause.

Philip Michael Dootson was found slumped in the driver’s seat of his parked van by his friend on 31 May, who initially believed that Mr Dootson was “playing a practical joke” on him.

Quickly realising the gravity of the situation, his friend called 999 and attempted CPR until the paramedics arrived, but they were unfortunately unable to save Mr Dootson. 

At yesterday's inquest, Police Coroner’s Officer, Samantha Rawlinson described him as a “fit and healthy” man, with no diagnosed medical conditions, who did not take any regular medication, did not smoke or drink excessive alcohol and had no allergies. 

She added that Mr Dootson had only visited his GP three times since he moved to Jersey in 2016, all for minor unrelated aliments. He had a “manual job” as an electrician, with his employer praising him as a “great employee” who was “extremely good at his job”.

Although Mr Dootson’s death was recorded as Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS), a coronary expert from the UK, Dr Mary Shepherd, explained that this is a “diagnosis of exclusion” which is given as the cause of death when no other cause can be identified.

SADS affects around 500 people in the UK each year.

She concluded in her report that Mr Dootson suffered a “sudden cardiac death with normal heart."

The inquest also heard evidence from Dr Miklos Perenyei, a local pathologist who carried out the initial post-mortem examination.

Dr Perenyei said that Mr Dootson had “no evidence of injury or trauma” and his “internal organs, including the heart, appeared healthy”.

Toxicology reports also came back clear and there was no sign of infection, including covid.

Dr Perenyei explained that SADS occurs in a “small number of cases every year of people below 40 years old who die without us being able to identify a cause of death morphologically”.

He confirmed that there is “no answer” as to why Mr Dootson passed away, adding that “SADS can happen under the age of 40, 30 or sometimes even 20; we just don’t know what the trigger is”.

A statement from Mr Dootson’s wife, which was read at the inquest, described her husband as always wanting to help others, and remembered his love of dancing.

She described his death as a “total shock”, adding: “I sometimes still think it might all be a bad dream”.

Concluding the inquest, Relief Coroner Advocate Cyril Whelen said to Mr Dootson’s family: “I wish we could offer something more conclusive”.

Advocate Whelen offered his condolences as he described this “unusual and unexpected” death of a “comparatively young man, in good health, going about his normal life” as a “terrible thing”.

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