THE grieving parents of three sons struck down by a wasting disease today revealed a second child had died – close to the second anniversary of his brother’s death.
John Mathieson, 21, who suffered from muscular dystrophy, died inside an ambulance outside his house after suddenly taking ill earlier this week.
His parents, from Arbroath, Angus, were preparing to visit the grave of their younger son, James, who died aged 17 of the same disease on June 27, 2010.
The second tragedy leaves 22-year-old Daniel, who also has muscular dystrophy and needs a wheelchair, as the third and last surviving brother of the family.
Parents Norman, 51, and Yvonne, 43, said the death of John, on Tuesday, had taken a “big chunk” away from the lives of the family.
Norman said: “John was the strong one. It was just a regular routine day. The morning was fine and he took a sudden turn for the worse.”
He said their daughter, Claire, knew something was wrong because she had seen the same signs with James two years before.
“She phoned the ambulance and phoned me and we rushed back from shopping.
“The paramedics took about 45 minutes to an hour trying to resuscitate him.”
Healthiest of the three
John had been in a wheelchair since just before his 13th birthday but still considered himself to be his older brother Daniel’s carer.
Norman said: “He was the healthiest out the three of them. Daniel has been the one who has had the most problems to deal with but he has been battling through it.
“John has not really had any problems whatsoever. He was determined to beat the disease and wouldn’t let it get to him” Norman said.
“He was always so stubborn and independent but it helped him fight it.
“Nobody expected this to happen. It is totally shocking and I am still a bit numb. I just can’t believe this has happened.
“Yvonne is managing to cope but she has been up all night.”
John attended Angus College and had just been awarded an HNC in interactive media and web development.
The family are pledging to fight for better treatment for those living with muscular dystrophy.
Both parents had previously marched on Holyrood to lobby for more funding towards vital research of the disabling disease.
Dean Widd, the Scottish Regional Development Officer for Action Duchenne, has known John and the family since 2009 and said it was devastating and unfortunate what happened.
He said: “They’re a great bunch. They’ve always got a smile on their face and stay upbeat.
“It’s so sad and unfortunate what happened. The life expectancy of boys is usually only into their twenties.
“Norman and Yvonne seem to be getting things backwards, losing their youngest son, James, first.”
The first brother James died in 2010 after he returned home from Claire’s 18th birthday party.
His sister tried desperately to resuscitate him.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the disease’s full name, only affects boys, although females can carry and pass on the faulty gene.
The degenerative disease delays the development of motor skills which can lead to frequent falls – it also leads to the muscles in the body wasting away.
Symptoms usually appear before the age of five and most of those affected by it will be wheelchair bound by the time they are 12.
John’s funeral service will take place in Arbroath on Tuesday.