Graham Wild, a 15-year-old boy, was an extraordinary child with a deep passion for ants and reptiles. He would collect them during his hiking trips with his family, dreaming of one day running an animal sanctuary focused on research and breeding. Graham was a science-minded teenager who loved playing volleyball and tee ball, as well as playing soccer and spending time with his siblings. He loved gaming on his computer, was a champion chess player and loved reading and watching Japanese Anime. He had a mature and caring nature and was always looking out for his loved ones.

“He was the best brother. He was their protector.”

The COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, and Graham had decided to move to Canberra to attend high school and strengthen his bond with his dad. It was a time of excitement and new possibilities for him; and he would travel between Canberra and Perth spending school holidays with his family in Perth. Things, however, took a turn when Graham returned home for the holidays in December 2022.

When he got off the plane, he complained about trouble breathing, which he attributed to his asthma acting up, as it had started prior to boarding. His step mum gave him his inhaler, which had helped as Graham had experienced minor episodes in the past, usually triggered by cold weather or allergies. After a good night's sleep, Graham and his mother – Kathryn – continued with their plans, going out for breakfast, visiting his old schoolteachers and friends.

The following day, Graham felt extremely tired and requested to sleep longer. Assuming it was due to his late-night gaming, his family allowed him more rest. When he finally woke up, he was still tired but didn’t complain about anything specific. Throughout the day, he continued to feel off, thinking it was simply fatigue; the family didn’t suspect anything serious.

“He was sitting on the curb of the house next to us. He couldn’t make it the rest of the way.”

Then, during one of his usual walks, he sent his mother a single, heart-breaking message: HELP! Frantic, Kathryn called him immediately, and he explained that he couldn’t make it home – it was something no parent should ever have to go through. Kathryn rushed to Graham and found him sitting just next to their house, too weak to make it home. He complained that his heart was beating very fast, and claimed he was cold even though he was clammy and sweating. After about 10 minutes of checking him over, his family made the decision to take him to the Joondalup Health Campus, just 8 minutes from their home. It was a decision that would change their lives forever.

“They checked his heart rate, and it was really, really fast.”

As the evening unfolded, it became apparent that something was seriously wrong. Graham’s health deteriorated rapidly, leaving his family in shock and confusion. Several doctors and nurses came to his aid, doing their best to find out the cause of his rapid heart, and eventually made the decision to take an X-ray after trying to shock his heart back into a normal rhythm. They kept calm, but urgently continued to work to determine what was wrong and how they could help him. All was going well as Graham was being examined through the machine – he was still moving, breathing, arguing with the nurses that he did not like the oxygen mask and nose prongs, and then suddenly his heart stopped. At this point the medical staff did start to think it might be a blood clot and gave Graham the medication to help break up the clot.

“It’s hard to come to terms with something when you just don’t understand why it happened –why there was nothing that sort of gave you a lead up to it.”

The doctors tried to reassure Kathryn that everything would be okay. However, watching several doctors and nurses take turns performing CPR on her young son did little to comfort her. She waited, her entire family waited, for the hope of a single heartbeat.

Unfortunately, things took a heart-breaking turn when the doctors finally announced he’d passed. After an hour and a half of performing CPR, it was just too late to bring him back. Graham was lost, and it shattered the doctors, the nurses, and his mother. It was revealed to Kathryn that even if his heart began beating again, the damage to his brain would be too catastrophic.

“They did everything they could. I was there. I know that they went above and beyond.”

As of July 2023, the cause of death was unknown, however after several weeks, Kathryn received a phone call from a police officer involved with Graham’s cause of death, which he said was definitely multiple blood clots. Graham and his family’s health history needs to be thoroughly investigated to determine the precise reason for his cause of death. 

In September 2023, Kathryn finally received new information from the Coroner regarding Graham’s death. He was diagnosed with Factor V Leiden. A genetic mutation of Factor V, which is involved in the clotting process. The mutation causes abnormal clots in the legs and lungs. The family are currently undergoing testing for the gene. To read more information about Factor V Leiden, please visit our website.

To honor her son, Kathryn participated in the 2023 HBF Run for a Reason, along with the family’s supportive network of family and friends who miss Graham dearly. She hopes that sometime within the next year, she’ll be able to raise awareness and money for more research – a first step in saving someone else’s family from the same pain of losing a loved one.

In memory of Graham Derrick Wild (2007-2022)