A DEVASTATED mum has told how her daughter collapsed while wrapping Christmas presents, dying days later on Boxing Day last year.
Lauren Cayford, 19, from South Wales, was found unresponsive on Christmas Eve 2018 as she packed presents in her bedroom.
Lauren, who suffered from epilepsy, was given CPR by dad Robert, 56, and paramedics managed to resuscitate her but she died two days later in hospital.
Heartbreakingly, her parents laid her to rest in her one of her Christmas presents-mint green fleece green pyjamas.
Her mum Del, 48, told how her death has left the family paralysed with grief.
"I still have her Christmas presents from last year unopened," she said.
"I can't bear to move them.
"We dressed her in her new pyjamas because she was always cold.
"When I saw my beautiful daughter lying in the mortuary on Boxing Day it felt like a terrible dream."
The couple spoke as the second anniversary of Lauren's death approached.
"Lauren was so excited, she loved Christmas so much," Robert said, speaking about the day she died.
"It was Christmas Eve and we'd just shared a family meal-her favourite Chinese takeaway.
"She told us she was going upstairs to pack the rest of her presents.
"Twenty minutes later I popped upstairs and I could see Lauren face down on her bed.
"She wasn't moving and she wasn't breathing. It was surreal-only a short time before she'd been bursting with excitement."
He began CPR on his daughter while Lauren's mum called an ambulance.
Paramedics arrived and she was saved but critically ill taken to hospital.
"Lauren was rushed to hospital in South Wales," her dad explained.
"Christmas was forgotten completely. Every present unopened under the tree.
"We didn't leave Lauren's side. We just sat holding her hand willing her to live."
But sadly the fit had caused brain damage and she died on Boxing Day. The couple agreed for her organs to be donated to three people, saving their lives.
"While the world around us was celebrating Christmas we were saying our last goodbye to our daughter," he said.
"She spent her whole life helping others.
"She worked with St John Ambulance group and at a local Food Bank. She had suffered from epilepsy since she was 14 but she didn't let her epilepsy hold her back. She loved life and loved people so much.
"The only joy we can take is that she has saved three people's lives and she would have wanted that. She loved helping others and making their lives better."
As a mother and daughter we couldn't have been closer. I miss her every moment of every day. I don't think my heartbreak will ever go away.Del Cayford
"There are no words for our grief. Losing our beautiful daughter so suddenly has left us beyond heartbroken. I am still in shock how one minute she was eating her tea and wrapping presents and then she was gone just like that."
Afterwards Lauren was dressed in the mint green fleece pyjamas they'd bought her for Christmas, complete with fluffy socks.
Del said: "I will never forget Lauren's excitement at Christmas. It was her favourite time of year.
"She loved everything about it. Every year she'd pester us to put the tree up. She loved Christmas so much.
"She adored Christmas dinner-especially Brussels sprouts but she hated Christmas cake and mince pies.
"When I saw my beautiful daughter lying in the mortuary on Boxing Day it felt like a terrible dream"
On January 10 2019 Lauren's funeral was held. 350 people turned up-including school teachers, dinner ladies and friends.
Her favourite songs The Greatest Showman's This is me was played.
What is epilepsy and can you die from it?
Around one in every 103 Brits are affected by epilepsy – and over half a million people in the UK have been diagnosed.
Epilepsy is a condition of the brain which can disrupt the electrical communication between neurons in the nervous system.
This often leads to seizures, a sudden event that can change a person's awareness, behaviour or feeling.
The condition is typically diagnosed when a person has two or more unprovoked fits separated by at least 24 hours.
A number of different triggers can cause epilepsy.
These can be human factors, including sleep deprivation, alcohol or drug abuse or not eating well.
Stress, hormonal changes or the use of certain medications can also cause epilepsy.
The effects of epilepsy are most visible when a sufferer experiences a seizure.
Fits vary in severity and can be partial or generalised, epileptic people can battle these episodes when they're awake or asleep.
Sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is a rare complication of epilepsy with one adult in 1,000 who suffer epilepsy per year dying as a result of their seizures (not as a consequence as accidents / drowning etc).
For more information visit Sudep Action .
Del continued: "This Christmas is going to be so difficult. My phone is so quiet.
"Lauren would text me from upstairs in her bedroom. As a mother and daughter we couldn't have been closer. I miss her every moment of every day. I don't think my heartbreak will ever go away.
"This year we were going to put a tree up in her memory, but couldn't do it.
"She was so loved by so many people. We didn't realise quite how loved she was until her funeral. She was an amazing daughter in so many ways.
"In her short life she did so much good and I am proud of the legacy she left-saving three people's lives." Organ donation is so important. No one wants to think about it. But you can never be sure when life can be snatched away.
"Christmas will never be the same again without her-but everything we do to celebrate will be in memory of her."
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