For those of you who knew Matthew you know he kept himself fit, went to the gym on a regular basis and generally had a healthy life style. So when he started to feel unwell towards the end of 2013 it was a concern for all of us. Despite many tests and visits to his doctor and hospitals, including A&E after one flight because he felt so ill, MRI scans and examinations nobody was able to figure out what was happening, why he was losing weight, why he had digestive issues and felt tired a lot of the time. They thought he might have had crone’s disease.
On Thursday Jan 30th 2014 Matt returned from a trip to Accra and went for another MRI scan, he spent the evening with his friends, a few red wines some pizza music and a bit of dancing.Then while everyone went downstairs to tidy up the dishes and do the washing up Matt went to have a rest on the sofa, he went to sleep and never woke up. His friends dog started barking and she came upstairs to see why and found Matt had stopped breathing. She went straight into CPR procedure as all trained crew do, Matt’s other friends helped and an ambulance was called. It was there in quick time apparently and the para-medics took over and continued to try and revive Matt all the way to the hospital and into A&E but he never came back.
Fiona and I were in Dubai at the time and his closest friend was in the worst position anyone could be in, trying to keep us up to date on Matt in A&E over the phone and then having to tell us he had died.
We flew back from Dubai that day and were met at the airport by Matt’s two closest friends who supported us over the weekend along with a bunch of Matt’s crew colleagues .
On the Saturday one of Matt’s friends had a call from a solicitor wanting to talk to us about Matt’s passing but at that time we were still trying to come to terms with what happened to Matt. It turned out the solicitor was part of a support group that included ex-BA crew who were trying to raise awareness of crew deaths caused by long term, and sometimes short term, exposure to contaminated cabin air, they said they thought they knew why Matt might have passed away as he did.
Matt’s postmortem on the Monday showed no apparent reason for his passing, it ruled out crones disease, and the coroner could not tell us why he died. I decided to call back the solicitor to see why he had called and found out about the effect breathing cabin air can have on some people and the support group that was in place. Fiona and I then decided to have a second specialist postmortem carried out on Matthew by a leading forensic pathologist from Holland. The forensic pathologist found there was evidence of chronic exposure to organophosphates, the results were then examined in the US by one of, if not the, worlds leading authority on organophosphate poisoning and the results were confirmed.
The most difficult part of all of this to come to terms with is that the airlines, industry and the government have known this has been happening for decades but are doing nothing to prevent it.
You can find out more on the subject matter from a number of web sites but the best one to look at is www.aerotoxic.org