Today (Wednesday) sees the launch of the first independently-funded heart screening clinic at the University of Ulster, where young people will be able to avail of life-saving heart screening services.
The clinic, set up by leading heart charity, Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), will offer a screening service using the facilities at the UU Clinic in the University at the Jordanstown campus.
Sudden Cardiac Death (SADS) takes the lives of eight young and apparently healthy people every week in the UK, a statistic which is viewed as only the tip of the iceberg by experts in the field. due to the concern that there are sometimes no symptoms, or that symptoms that do occur are not recognised because the young person appears so fit and healthy, sudden death can occur before there is a diagnosis.
With a simple Electrocardiogram (ECG), and diagnosis by an expert consultant cardiologist, many heart conditions can be dete4ted.
Despite this, heart screening for young people is not compulsory, and it is often not until a tragedy takes place in n a family that the true extent of the problem is know. CRY campaigns for screening and it subsidises clinics in the UK in its fight to stop unnecessary deaths.
With the help of its Northern Ireland representative John Lundy, who tragically lost his son Aaron to a heart condition at the age of 19, CRY is launching its Northern Ireland base with the backing of some of Ireland's most famous faces.
Patrons include BBC presenter Mark Carruthers and former Ireland rugby player Gary Longwell who will not only be attending the launch, but will be one of the first people to be screened at the clinic. Pat Jennings, who gained 119 caps for Northern Ireland as their goalkeeper, as well as playing for English clubs Arsenal and Tottenham, has also become a patron.
To date, John Lundy and the Action for CRY groups across Northern Ireland have raised significant funds for CRY through local fundraising supporting events. They are grateful to the extensive support they have received from many families across Northern Ireland. He hopes to continue his work in his home country and said:
"Opening such a facility in Northern Ireland is another step in the right direction in the fight against young sudden cardiac death. We hope to continue to raise awareness and bring together those affected to provide support and help people who have been through the same pain of loss as myself."
John Carruthers, the manager of the UU Clinic in the Jordanstown campus said his staff were pleased to be able to assist CRY in setting up this screening initiative in Northern Ireland which young people will be able to access.
"We are all aware of some of the tragic deaths which have occurred and through this screening service will be able to detect potential heart problems and help prevent more deaths occurring".