Calls for more epilepsy awareness after death

Shaun Bowd
Shaun Bowd

THE FAMILY of a man who died after many years of suffering with epilepsy are calling for greater awareness of the condition.

Shaun Bowd was aged just 42 years when he was found dead at his home in Priory Road on April 14 this year.

He had lived with epilepsy since the age of seven and it is thought that he died after having an epileptic seizure in the night.

Mr Bowd’s family are concerned that there is not enough support readily available for people with epilepsy, and a general lack of understanding of the condition.

Epilepsy is characterized by recurring seizures, which are bursts of electrical activity in the brain, disrupting its normal function. Every individual is affected differently by epilepsy.

Mr Bowd’s brother Trevor Bowd, 47, spoke of a generous and funny man, who loved his family, and just wanted to be like everyone else.

He said that in the last three years, his brother had been increasingly having memory difficulties, an effect of the epilepsy. In particular he would have trouble remembering to collect and take his medication.

He said: “Shaun would often have trouble remembering something that you had just told him, and sometimes would forget what day it was.

“He knew that he had to take his medication, it was just a case of him sometimes forgetting to do so.”

Mr Bowd was prescribed tablets to help reduce the frequency of his seizures, during which he would lose consciousness, and had often injured himself.

His GP Dr Jerzy Kaliniecki giving evidence at the inquest last Wednesday, explained that Mr Bowd had only collected between 53 and 73 per cent of his prescriptions, which suggested that he was missing at least a quarter of his epilepsy medication.

His mother Janice Akerman, 68, of Grange Avenue, said: “I was constantly reminding Shaun to take his medication, but he was a 42-year-old man, and there was only so much I could do.”

Mr Bowd, who was divorced and had an 18-year-old daughter, lived in Harrow, in Middlesex until 2006, when he moved to Hastings to be closer to the support of his family.

He had not worked since being medically discharged from his job as a refuse collector about six years ago.

Deputy coroner Joanna Pratt recorded a verdict of natural causes after hearing the evidence.

The family are concerned that there also needs to be more awareness of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), and the increased risk for those who, like Shaun Bowd, experience uncontrolled generalised tonic-clonic seizures, particularly sleep seizures.

SUDEP is connected to seizures, and it is suggested that occasionally they may cause a person to stop breathing.

Important protective measures include taking medication correctly, and avoiding situations that bring on seizures.

Mrs Akerman said: “At the moment, there is very little help offered for epilepsy, you really have to go out there and find it.”

Mr Bowd’s sister Michelle Connolly, 45, of Little Ridge Avenue, recommended the Facebook group Epilepsy Action, to those with epilepsy and their families, where people can share advice and experiences.

Information is also available at www.epilepsy.org.uk and www.epilepsysociety.org.uk.