House bill highlights issues with sudden unexpected death in epilepsy
House Bill 392, introduced by McLean Democrat Kathleen Murphy, would require medical examiners to participate in training developed by the Epilepsy Foundation of Virginia that provides guidelines for the proper identification of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.
The bill has been referred to the Committee on Health, Welfare, and Institutions.
According to EFVA, 84,800 Virginians live with epilepsy, and about two-thirds of those with epilepsy take seizure medication that helps them lead perfectly normal, seizure-free lives.
“However, the remaining third have drug-resistant epilepsy,” said Jeffrey Guzman, advocacy and outreach director for the EFVA. “This means that medication is unable to control their seizures. Uncontrolled seizures can cause death, as happened to Jonathan Alan Gibbs Bush, a 21 year-old from Woodbridge. One in 150 people living with uncontrolled seizures each year die of SUDEP.
“While SUDEP is most common in those with uncontrolled seizures like Jonathan, it can happen to anyone with epilepsy. Each year 1 in 1,000 people with epilepsy, even those who have been living seizure free, die of SUDEP, as was the case with Todd Mathis Parker, a 31-year-old from Richmond.”
“As an executive director of the EFVA, I have tried to help parents who lost their child to sudden unexpected death in epilepsy,” EFVA Executive Director Suzanne Bischoff said. “Their grief is immeasurable. Many times, these parents have gone the extra mile to help their child finish high school and go to college. Sometimes, when the child comes home from college, the parents find their child at home, not sleeping as many students do, but dead. This bill will help the science we need to improve this situation.”