Raising awareness about sudden death in epilepsy

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BURLINGTON, N.C. -- According to doctors, one in 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime. It's a brain disorder that causes seizures. But generally, it's not thought to be deadly. Unfortunately, a local family found out that is not always true.

"It was like a bolt of lightning, we had no idea this could possibly happen," said Tom Ring. His son, 29-year-old Patrick Ring, died suddenly Feb. 6 of this year in the conference room at the company where he worked. The medical examiner told the family it was because of SUDEP, which stands for Sudden Unexplained Death from Epilepsy.

"Never in the entire time he was treated for epilepsy were we told about SUDEP," said Ring.

SUDEP is relatively rare, but doctors tell us it happens in about one out of every thousand people who have partial epileptic seizures like Patrick Ring. The Ring family created a foundation in Patrick's honor and holds fundraisers to help other people who have epilepsy.

"It makes us feel good that through our loss we can potentially save someone else's life. Pat had recently gotten off his medicine because he hadn't had a seizure in a few years and he thought he had grown out of epilepsy. Had he known this was a possibility, I think he would have stayed on that medicine. He had the right to know about SUDEP and we want to help make sure other families don't have to go through what we have been through."

For more information, visit PatrickRingFoundation.org.