MP Pauline Latham says death of son inspired charity push

image copyrightPauline Latham
image captionBen Latham died in 2018 of an aortic dissection, hours after being misdiagnosed at a hospital

An MP has helped start a new charity to raise awareness about a serious condition that took her son's life.

Pauline Latham said Ben Latham died from an undiagnosed aortic dissection hours after leaving hospital in 2018.

The Mid Derbyshire member hopes The Aortic Dissection Charitable Trust will raise awareness of the illness and prevent further deaths.

"Two thousand people a year die from it, more than on the roads, and they don't need to," she said.

Aortic dissection is caused when the aorta - the body's main artery - develops a partial tear, which can spread along the artery and cause a rupture, interrupting blood supply to vital organs.

The charity says more than 2,000 people in the UK and Ireland die from it each year, with more than the 1,870 people thought to die annually in road accidents.

It says the condition has an 80% survival rate if diagnosed and treated on time but it is missed in about a third of cases.

image copyrightUK Parliament
image captionPauline Latham said she wanted to prevent future deaths

Mrs Latham said her 44-year-old son, a married father-of-two, became critically ill a few hours after being checked at a hospital.

"My daughter-in-law got a defibrillator from the village and used that but it was too late, and by the time the paramedics came there was nothing at all they could do," she said.

"There is surgery for it, it's lengthy surgery, complicated surgery, but people can be saved.

"He would be surprised that no-one detected it when they should have, and he wouldn't want anyone else to go through it."

image captionRadio 2 DJ and broadcaster Bob Harris suffered an aortic dissection in 2019

The charity said the condition was often missed when a patient goes to an emergency department with severe chest pain because the pain can quickly settle and routine tests can come up as normal.

An emergency CT scan is needed to diagnose an aortic dissection but is often not ordered.

The trust wants emergency departments to routinely rule out aortic dissection to reduce preventable deaths.

Broadcaster Bob Harris, who survived the condition in 2019, is an ambassador for the charity.

"It's by far the most traumatic and painful and difficult moment of my entire life," he said.

"It was horrendous, I feel very fortunate to have survived it, I only did so because of the quick thinking of an ambulance team."

Follow BBC East Midlands on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Send your story ideas to

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.