Mum launches online bid to wipe out ‘dead in bed’ syndrome

Karen Gates calls for more awareness of Dead in Bed syndrome and is trying to raise money for a headstone for son Ashley Gates 19
Karen Gates calls for more awareness of Dead in Bed syndrome and is trying to raise money for a headstone for son Ashley Gates 19

A mother has won the support of more than 200 people in her call for more research into the syndrome that she believes killed her 19-year-old son.

Karen Gates (41), had never heard of ‘dead in bed syndrome,’ yet as an insulin dependent diabetic aged under 40, her son Ashley was in an at-risk group.

On June 13, Karen chatted to Ashley on the phone and they signed off as usual, saying they loved each other.

The next day, the friend Ashley was staying with called to tell her he had died in his sleep.

Karen, of Market Lane, Walpole St Andrew, said: “He has had a lot of other things in his life to contend with and had come through so much then he went to bed one night and just didn’t wake up.”

More than 200 people have already signed an online petition Karen has launched on Change.Org entitled: “Stop dead in bed syndrome for Ashley, because he mattered”.

Many of them are also parents of diabetic children.

Karen is calling for the development of a blood glucose monitor that can be used during the night to monitor and give glucose automatically while a diabetes sufferer sleeps.

Diabetes UK has responded to the petition, saying that although dead in bed syndrome is “very rare,” it should be a “high priority area for research”.

The charity said it has already invested £700,000 into one project which is looking at a solution.

Ashley, a former pupil at St Clements High School, in Terrington St Clement, had been living in Margate with a family friend in the months before his death.

He moved there following a stay in a psychiatric hospital after developing psychosis through smoking cannabis.

Karen believes many of Ashley’s problems were down to his diabetes.

She said he always struggled to manage it and his unstable blood sugar levels affected his behaviour. He also suffered attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Ashley was excluded from school aged 15 and went on to attend the Rosebery Centre, in King’s Lynn.

Karen said: “He was very misunderstood. His hoodie was always up but he would never leave the house without saying ‘love you Mum, love you Nan.’ You just couldn’t help but smile at him.”

Ashley’s nan Jean, sister Cheyenne, nine, and brothers Jesse, five and Daniel, 17, have also been devastated by his death.

Karen has chronic lung disease and her grief for Ashley is made worse as she cannot afford to buy the headstone she wants for him. She has launched ‘Ashley’s headstone fund’ on to try to generate the funds.

An inquest into Ashley’s death is due to be completed later this month.