The mother of 23-year-old Abertay University student who died after falling into a diabetic coma has said her son “loved life and was a character.”
Describing Graeme affectionately as “a rogue,” Maureen Howie recalled her son’s sense of fun.
She said the family are taking some comfort from the fact that, even in death, Graeme is helping others as he was an organ donor.
Graeme was found collapsed in his room by friends on April 24 and battled for life for a week before dying on May 1.
Mrs Howie said, “Graeme was a healthy, big lad.
“He had no health problems apart from the diabetes, if that makes sense.
“He had lived with it and managed it since the week he was four.”
Speaking at the family home in Dunblane, Mrs Howie said she had tried to contact Graeme on the day he collapsed but had no reason to be concerned when she couldn’t.
However, alarm bells began to ring when he did not respond to texts from his flatmate, as he usually did.
“When he got back to the flat Graeme’s room door was closed but they managed to get in and found him,” Mrs Howie said.
“They got him medical help as soon as they could but he was already profoundly brain damaged.
“He was in intensive care for a week and then he lost his fight for life.”GratitudeMrs Howie paid tribute to hospital staff and said she wanted to express the family’s gratitude for their care of her son.
“He had the most amazing treatment at Ninewells Hospital,” she said.
“I’m not talking about medical treatment but the dignity with which he was treated by every member of staff and which was accorded to his dad, sister and me.
“That meant so much to us and will always mean so much to us.”
Mrs Howie also praised the support the family have received from Graeme’s friends.
“They have all been fantastic especially Matthew Ross, Holly Farningham, Ray and Poppy Farningham, and Chris Calder, as well as the students on his masters course,” she said.
Graeme’s dad Dave said he had fallen ill when his blood sugar levels dropped dramatically.
“He was found on the floor and I think he was maybe trying to get to the fridge to get some Lucozade or a sugary drink to help him out,” he said.
Mr Howie said he, Graeme’s mother and his sister Caroline (25) were still trying to come to terms with their loss.
The city’s other university stressed the urgent need for better research and patient care for sufferers of the condition.
Dundee University’s Diabetes Research Campaign has already raised more than £2 million for the cause.
Dundee University principal Professor Pete Downes said, “We still need to raise more to reach our goal of supporting world-class research and patient care facilities in the region.”
Professor Downes added, “My concerns about diabetes are very real and tangible because people who are dear to me suffer from this insidious disease.
“My brother was diagnosed quite recently with type 2 diabetes and the son of a long-standing close friend has juvenile onset diabetes.”
He praised the generosity of Taysiders so far and urged them to continue to support the campaign.
Diabetes is now the fastest growing epidemic in the developed world and treating it is estimated to cost the NHS £1 million an hour.