MONROE, Mich. (WTVG) – Brandon Mayes fights back the tears talking about his daughter, Kennedy Mayes.
“She was very funny and had the most infectious laugh,” Mayes said. “That’s one thing I really miss about her laugh.”
Kennedy was diagnosed with Epilepsy as a little girl, but Mayes said that never stopped his daughter from living fully.
“Her smile would light up a room,” Mayes said of his daughter. “She loved God and was a child of God, and that’s one thing I admired about her.”
The 18-year-old died last March following a seizure.
“She was sleeping,” Mayes said. “That’s the thing about SUDEP, you pass away in your sleep.”
SUDEP stands for sudden, unexpected death in Epilepsy.
It’s something that people across the country are hearing more about, following the death of Disney star, Cameron Boyce. The 20-year-old actor died in his sleep over the weekend. The coroner has not yet released an official cause of death, but his family says he had a seizure.
“The recent death of Cameron Boyce, the Disney star, really put it in the forefront,” Mayes said. “For me, if there is some silver lining in this whole thing, it’s that his fame will get this out there.”
According to the CDC, each year one out of every 1,000 people with Epilepsy die from SUDEP. It’s the leading cause of death in people with uncontrolled seizures.
Dr. Ajaz Sheikh, a neurologist with ProMedica’s Neurosciences Center, says the number one thing to do for people with Epilepsy is to learn to control your seizures.
“The bottom line is to control the seizures and do everything you can to try to avoid having seizures,” Dr. Sheikh said.
Dr. Sheikh recommends doing that by taking prescribed medications and avoid seizure triggers, such as excess alcohol.
“She was normal. That’s the thing about this, there are no signs,” Mayes said.
Mayes hopes the sudden death of actor Cameron Boyce will cause more people to educate themselves about the condition, so other parents don’t have to feel the heartbreak of losing a child to SUDEP.
“I miss her terribly. We all do,” said Mayes. “We try to do the best for her and I know she is looking down on us and is smiling today.”