Launch of the CRY Screening Service for Northern Ireland

Leading heart charity opens life-saving clinic in Northern Ireland

Press release – 26th October 2006

This week Northern Ireland sees the launch of the first independently-funded heart screening clinic at the University of Ulster. 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. The official launch is on 1st November and will be attended by former Ireland and Ulster rugby star Gary Longwell.

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, most heart conditions can be detected.

Despite this, heart screening for young people is not compulsory, and it is often not until a tragedy takes place in a family that the true extent of the problem is known. CRY campaigns for screening and subsidises clinics in the UK in its fight to stop unnecessary deaths. With the help of the CRY 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.

CarruthersRBS 6 Nations - Ireland v FrancePatrons include BBC presenter Mark Carruthers (left) and former Ireland rugby player Gary Longwell (right) 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, lending his support to this worthy cause.

Pat Jennings commented: “I am honoured to be asked to become a patron for CRY Northern Ireland. It is a fantastic charity and setting up this clinic for the people of Northern Ireland has taken a tremendous amount of hard work and commitment. I look forward to working closely with CRY in the future and supporting their campaign to make screening widely available across the whole of the UK.”

The launch will include speeches from CRY’s Chief Executive and Founder Alison Cox, expert consultant cardiologist Dr. Sanjay Sharma and CRY’s National Volunteer Representative Caroline Gard. Caroline was instrumental in setting up a screening clinic at Colchester Hospital in the UK after losing her only son Andy to sudden cardiac death only two days before his 18th birthday.

Alison Cox explained: “We are delighted to be extending the CRY network through a new screening clinic in Northern Ireland. It is based on the same protocol as the CRY Centre for Sports Cardiology at the Olympic Medical Institute and will offer both screening for elite athletes and a separate subsidised clinic for the 35 and under Northern Ireland community that wish to have cardiac testing. It is critical to give everyone access to screening, and work towards increasing awareness and knowledge of conditions that kill young people every day.”

To date John Lundy and the Action for CRY groups across Northern Ireland have raised significant funds for CRY in Northern Ireland through local fundraising events and are grateful to the extensive support they has 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 in Northern Ireland and bring together those affected to provide support and help people who have been through the same pain of loss as myself.”

John Carruthers manager of the UU Clinic in the Jordanstown campus said: “We are 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 the some of the tragic deaths which have occurred in Northern Ireland and through this screening service will be able to detect potential heart problems and help prevent more deaths occurring.