Athlete Speaks Out After 20-Year-Old Brother's Autopsy Comes Back - 'He Was a Super Fit and Healthy Kid'


Last year, former Australian 400-meter runner Bella O’Grady lost her brother when he died suddenly at the finish line of the Melbourne half marathon.

Last month, she and her family received Xavier O’Grady’s autopsy results — but no real answers.

Xavier, whom Bella called “Xav,” died of cardiac arrest, but what caused the arrest was labeled “unascertainable.”

“On 2nd October last year my brother died at the end of the Melbourne half marathon,” Bella told Australia’s 7News during Saturday’s Sydney Track Classic.

“He died of a sudden cardiac arrest at the finish line and his autopsy came back as unascertainable so, no rhyme or reason as to what caused it,” she added. “He was a super fit and healthy kid, he’d just finished a season of colts rugby and anyone that knows me or my family knows that we’re all pretty close and very tight, and this has obviously been incredibly devastating.”

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As a result, O’Grady and her family started a fundraising effort called “Heartbeats for Xav” to support Professor Chris Semsarian and his team in the Agnes Ginges Centre for Molecular Cardiology at the Centenary Institute.

“The Molecular Cardiology program is the study of genetic heart disorders,” the program’s website states. “Our major goal is to reduce human disease by combining basic science research and clinical cardiology.”

After her brother’s death, O’Grady and her family realized that young, physically fit young people — and especially men — die of sudden cardiac arrest more of than many people might think.”

“Every year around 30,000 Australians die from sudden cardiac death and, disturbingly, around 4 young Australians (between 15 and 35) die each week,” the family wrote on the fundraising site.

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“Xavier was one of these young Australians. Our hope is that the research that is able to be undertaken by Professor Semsarian from the funds we raise will save other families from having to experience a similar tragedy.”

The campaign’s initial goal was to raise $250,000 (presumably in Australian dollars; in U.S. dollars, the goal would be about $167,500 according to Tuesday’s rate of exchange).

However, more than twice that amount came in in a little over a month, so the family has raised the goal to $700,000, which they hope to raise by the beginning of July.

On Feb. 6, Bella O’Grady wrote a post on Instagram about the autopsy results and fundraising effort.


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A post shared by Bella O’Grady (@bellaogrady)

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“On 2 October 2022, I watched my brother run his last 100m at the Melbourne Half Marathon,” she wrote. “On the finish line, Xav died from a sudden cardiac arrest. The cause of the cardiac arrest has been determined to be ‘unascertainable’.

“Xav had a heart larger than anyone I have ever known.

“We want others hearts to keep beating, for Xav and BECAUSE of Xav. Please help us keep Xavier’s heart beating in his memory 💛.”

Readers interested in supporting this cause can do so here.

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George Upper is the former Editor-in-Chief of The Western Journal and was a weekly co-host of "WJ Live," powered by The Western Journal. He is currently a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. A former U.S. Army special operator, teacher and consultant, he is a lifetime member of the NRA and an active volunteer leader in his church. Born in Foxborough, Massachusetts, he has lived most of his life in central North Carolina.
George Upper, is the former editor-in-chief of The Western Journal and is now a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. He currently serves as the connections pastor at Awestruck Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a former U.S. Army special operator, teacher, manager and consultant. Born in Massachusetts, he graduated from Foxborough High School before joining the Army and spending most of the next three years at Fort Bragg. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in English as well as a Master's in Business Administration, all from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He and his wife life only a short drive from his three children, their spouses and his grandchildren. He is a lifetime member of the NRA and in his spare time he shoots, reads a lot of Lawrence Block and John D. MacDonald, and watches Bruce Campbell movies. He is a fan of individual freedom, Tommy Bahama, fine-point G-2 pens and the Oxford comma.
Foxborough, Massachusetts
Beta Gamma Sigma
B.A., English, UNCG; M.A., English, UNCG; MBA, UNCG
North Carolina
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Business, Leadership and Management, Military, Politics