February 1st 2017 marks 10 years of life-saving work at the Family Heart Screening Clinic which screens families of those who have been affected by or who have lost loved ones to cardiac conditions such as Sudden Adult/Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS).

Almost 9,000 people have been screened for these often hidden and potentially fatal diseases since the clinic opened in 2007, including 60 children as young as 8 years of age in the last year

Funded almost entirely by The Mater Foundation, the official fundraising body of The Mater Hospital, this year’s Heart Appeal aims to raise €95,000 to purchase a new ECHO machine which will provide much clearer images of the heart and lead to better diagnoses of often hidden cardiac problems into the future. The appeal also funds pioneering research into the causes and treatment of the disease.

With one person under the age of 35 passing away from an inherited cardiac condition every week in Ireland, many of these families have lost those youngest and dearest to them.

Speaking at the launch Jim Gavin, Manager of the Dublin Senior Gaelic Football team, said, ‘The death of any young person is heart breaking and devastating but we hope that by coming together with our fellow sportsmen we can show our support to those families who have been impacted by SADS and highlight and help raise critical funds to assist and sustain the vital work being carried out at the Family Heart Screening Clinic by Dr Joe Galvin and his outstanding team’ – Jim Gavin, Dublin GAA Football Manager.

Also in attendance at the launch was Stephen Kenny, Dundalk FC Manager who commented, “Dundalk Football Club has been directly affected by inherited cardiac conditions and we have seen the devastating impact on players and their families. I am happy to lend my support to the Mater Foundation’s Heart Appeal to fund new equipment and research into the causes of SADS and other heart diseases”  Kenny was joined at the launch by and two of his defenders, Sean Gannon and Dane Massey.

This year, families who have lost loved ones, and others who have had family members potentially saved through the use of such interventions such as defibrillators and medication, are sharing their stories to highlight 10 years of life-saving work.

“New investment in equipment is critical to ensure that The Family Heart Screening Clinic remains at the cutting edge of technology and supports pioneering research into the causes of a disease that affects young people in their prime” says Dr Joe Galvin, Consultant Cardiologist. Dr Galvin who set up the clinic ten years ago and has been leading the team ever since adds, “The clinic has saved many relatives identified as being at high risk of a life threatening arrhythmia and these have been protected with lifestyle changes, medications or an implantable cardiac defibrillator. It has also played a key role in research into SADS and other inherited cardiac conditions which is crucial if these conditions are to be mapped and their prevalence fully understood in Ireland.”

The clinic receives limited government funding and is dependent on The Mater Foundation and the generosity of the public to purchase new essential equipment and fund research.

Mary Moorhead, Chief Executive of The Mater Hospital Foundation adds, “After ten years, we now require new equipment to allow us to update the service, to continue to test for potentially life-threatening conditions that families might not otherwise have known about and to support research. We are appealing to the general public this February, the month of the heart, to lend us their support and help us to raise funds for an ECHO scanner. This will allow us to continue the important screening service into the future and help us prevent the deaths of our young people from SADS. As we have started testing children as young as 8 years of age, now more than ever, this new equipment is vital.”

This year donations to The Mater Heart Appeal can be made online at www.materfoundation.ie, or by calling the office on 01 830 3482. You can also lend your support by selling heart badges in your local area to help reach the fundraising target. For more information contact the Mater Foundation on 01 830 3482 or email heartappeal@materfoundation.ie

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