Doctor Who actress, 29, died from undiagnosed epilepsy after seizure in garden
An actress who appeared in Doctor Who died at 29 after suffering two seizures from undiagnosed epilepsy.
Amii Lowndes collapsed in her parents’ back garden from SUDEP – sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.
The condition is estimated to kill around 600 people a year in the UK.
Despite having had two seizures – one just 13 days before her death – doctors had not diagnosed epilepsy.
Amii’s family say she had no idea the attacks could kill her, and they are pushing for greater awareness of SUDEP.
Mum Bea said: “Amii first had a seizure in 2018 but we only learned about SUDEP upon her death.
“Both she and we would have wanted the opportunity to know that seizures, just like heart attacks, can be fatal.”
Speaking after the inquest into Amii’s death, Bea added: “We want change.
“Nothing will bring Amii back but if we can save one other family going through our pain, it will be worth it.”
Amii, who also had parts in Casualty and Skins, collapsed in Bristol after returning from her home in London during the first lockdown.
The coroner heard that after her second seizure in May 2020, a consultant neurologist failed to diagnose epilepsy despite her hallmark symptoms.
She was not started on vital anti-epileptic medication as recommended following a second episode.
But the inquest was told on the balance of probability it was “unlikely” the lack of treatment led directly to her death just weeks later, on June 15.
Giving evidence, Prof David Chadwick said: “To my mind, the probability is against that.
“This tragic outcome could not have been anticipated. Even with a diagnosis of epilepsy and proper medication, there is still a risk of death from SUDEP.”
More than 600,000 people in the UK live with epilepsy, in which sudden bursts of electrical activity in the brain cause fits.
In most cases the cause of epilepsy is not known. SUDEP claims the lives of one in 1,000 people with the condition.
Campaigners say at least four in ten SUDEP deaths could be avoided with access to care and information.
Amii, who also loved to draw, spent seven years as a receptionist and business development administrator for RADA, where she had trained.
She appeared in Doctor Who alongside Peter Capaldi in 2014 but, as a fan of Shakespeare, most wanted to pursue a theatre career.
Her colleagues, who described her as “a ray of sunshine”, plan to put plaques on theatre seats in her memory.
Bea told how her death had devastated the family, including dad John and brother Ashley.
She said: “Losing her was never on the cards. She was fun-loving, full of life and had so many ideas. We feel her loss at every moment.”
The family plan to work with the charity SUDEP Action to tackle avoidable deaths.
Founder Jane Hanna said: “Some deaths are not avoidable but most probably are.”
Senior coroner Maria Voisin said she did not believe the failure to diagnose and treat Amii’s epilepsy reached the threshold to conclude her death was contributed to by neglect.
She recorded a narrative verdict.