Last year, former Australian 400-meter runner Bella O’Grady lost her brother when he died suddenly at the finish line of the Melbourne half marathon.
Last month, she and her family received Xavier O’Grady’s autopsy results — but no real answers.
Xavier, whom Bella called “Xav,” died of cardiac arrest, but what caused the arrest was labeled “unascertainable.”
“On 2nd October last year my brother died at the end of the Melbourne half marathon,” Bella told Australia’s 7News during Saturday’s Sydney Track Classic.
“He died of a sudden cardiac arrest at the finish line and his autopsy came back as unascertainable so, no rhyme or reason as to what caused it,” she added. “He was a super fit and healthy kid, he’d just finished a season of colts rugby and anyone that knows me or my family knows that we’re all pretty close and very tight, and this has obviously been incredibly devastating.”
As a result, O’Grady and her family started a fundraising effort called “Heartbeats for Xav” to support Professor Chris Semsarian and his team in the Agnes Ginges Centre for Molecular Cardiology at the Centenary Institute.
“The Molecular Cardiology program is the study of genetic heart disorders,” the program’s website states. “Our major goal is to reduce human disease by combining basic science research and clinical cardiology.”
“Every year around 30,000 Australians die from sudden cardiac death and, disturbingly, around 4 young Australians (between 15 and 35) die each week,” the family wrote on the fundraising site.
“Xavier was one of these young Australians. Our hope is that the research that is able to be undertaken by Professor Semsarian from the funds we raise will save other families from having to experience a similar tragedy.”
The campaign’s initial goal was to raise $250,000 (presumably in Australian dollars; in U.S. dollars, the goal would be about $167,500 according to Tuesday’s rate of exchange).
However, more than twice that amount came in in a little over a month, so the family has raised the goal to $700,000, which they hope to raise by the beginning of July.
On Feb. 6, Bella O’Grady wrote a post on Instagram about the autopsy results and fundraising effort.
View this post on Instagram
“On 2 October 2022, I watched my brother run his last 100m at the Melbourne Half Marathon,” she wrote. “On the finish line, Xav died from a sudden cardiac arrest. The cause of the cardiac arrest has been determined to be ‘unascertainable’.
“Xav had a heart larger than anyone I have ever known.
“We want others hearts to keep beating, for Xav and BECAUSE of Xav. Please help us keep Xavier’s heart beating in his memory
Readers interested in supporting this cause can do so here.