Schoolboy football fan's sudden death

PUBLISHED: 13:31 14 August 2001 | UPDATED: 10:26 03 March 2010

THE Harveys should be on holiday today, instead they are mourning the sudden death of their football-mad son.

Ten-year-old St. Helen's schoolboy James Harvey was the victim of a rare medical complaint.

He loved football and was an avid Ipswich Town fan … he had supported the Super Blues since the age of seven and revelled in the atmosphere of a Saturday afternoon.

But sadly with just a few more days before the start of the Premiership season James's seat will be empty.

The youngster suffered from a rare condition called pneumothorax and was believed to be the only child in East Anglia to have the complaint. It effected his breathing so that air got trapped between his lungs and his chest wall.

It was not until his death on August 5 that his parents Mark and Janet, of Oxford Road, Ipswich, were told that their son had suffered from a life-threatening condition.

A pathologist's report detailed the complaint that James suffered.

It was so rare the pathologist told James's parent that she had never come across a case before in a child as young as James.

Mark Harvey talked to the Star about the afternoon, which changed his life irreversibly.

"At 3pm James asked if I would take him to the park and he was fit and healthy.

"We never got to the park but a bit later he started wheezing, this wasn't that unusual as he had asthma, I started to give him treatment but it wasn't helping.

"He collapsed, it just looked like he needed to calm down but it was more than that.

"It was like a dream, watching down on it all but having no control over it," he said.

His parents called the ambulance and they did all they could but James died at 5.40pm.

The condition meant that James had air trapped between his lung and his chest wall, the air escapes from the lung and lodges itself in the wall of the chest.

"It all happened so quickly, he was deeply unconscious by the time the ambulance arrived but the treatment we got from the NHS was faultless they were wonderful.

"When the ambulance crew arrived I could tell by the look in their eyes that there was little hope," added Mr Harvey.

James was taken to Addenbrooke's where a post-mortem was carried out and it was discovered he had this rare condition, a condition which could have struck at any time.

James and his 12-year-old brother Richard were always very close and Mr Harvey spoke of his boys as, "partners in crime".

They spent much of their time together and Mr and Mrs Harvey, who live at Oxford Road, Ipswich, are concerned about the impact this will have on their eldest son.

"We have always brought them up to do things together, they depended on each other and I think Richard is just going to be lonely now."

"It is just so hard to come to terms with.

"The days just seem so very long, I think my wife will really feel it on the day he was due to go back to school."

The family have been amazed at the amount of lives James touched with hundreds of cards from people, some from friends he had known all the way through his school life.

Mr Harvey gave up his position as a ward councillor back in 1996 to spend more time with his growing boys.

"I enjoyed the work but it just took up so much time and in the end something had to go, to me being with my family was more important."

The ten-year-old boy who wanted to be a journalist when he grew up was bright and enthusiastic and a letter sent to the Harveys from his teacher showed just how popular he was, it called him a "joy to teach".

James was also mad on trains and his dad used this to try and get him to go on the London Eye.

"He was afraid of heights but I told him that if he went on the Eye he would see Charing Cross and all the trains there in the end he agreed but it will never happen now."

His family are taking one day at a time and trying to deal with the suddenness of this tragedy.

"We have had terrific support from our local church, St Helens, but at the moment we are taking one day at a time, we have been through all the emotions.

"We are searching for the reason, being Christians we believe there is a purpose but at the moment we can't find it.

"It is amazing how quickly something can happen, we had no time to come to terms with it.

"You wake up in the morning and think you have everything taped but you have no idea," said Mr Harvey.

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