Five local mothers are using their ‘mummy power’ to help highlight the issue of cardiac risk among young people in Ards.
Following the well publicised deaths of several young athletes in recent months, the ladies, who are all mums of sport-playing children attending school in Newtownards, decided to investigate the possibility of having cardiac testing organised for local children.
Showing phenomenal organisational skills, the group has secured the services of English charity CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young), who are prepared to run a local clinic in the Ards area, offering electrocardiograms (ECG’s) and echocardiograms to young people between the ages of 14 and 35.
ECG’s performed before the age of 14 often prove to be inconclusive because the child may not yet have reached puberty.
The two day clinic hopes to serve around 150 people, but if demand exceeds this CRY are willing to return to run another clinic. The normal cost for such tests is in the region of £200, but CRY are able to offer the service for £35.
All monies will go towards the large expense of bringing CRY professionals and their kits to Northern Ireland.
The project is particularly poignant for group chairwoman Angela Hamilton, whose 16-year-odls on son Scott, who is an accomplished athlete, had an ECG test before Christmas which showed a few irregularities.
Thankfully, Scott’s follow up echo test proved to be normal.
Angela said: “Really the point we want to raise with this clinic is that it could happen to anyone. It’s a scary subject and it happened to us and we had an anxious few weeks but thankfully we were very lucky.”
Hoping to raise awareness through the clinic, Angela said: “The cardiologist dealing with my son told us that it’s more common than you might think. Unfortunately we tend only to hear about the high profile deaths that take place on the sports field among young people.
“With proper screening, such deaths are completely preventable. There are so many treatments available for young people with cardiac problems, it just needs to be caught first.”
Angela and the other mothers involved have circulated around 1,000 registration forms to sports and athletic clubs around the Ards area to inform parents and coaches about the clinic.
Speaking of the benefits of the clinic to the children who play sport she said: “All the mums have very sporty children. I think it’s so important just to check that everything is Okay an there are no potential problems
“If CRY perform an ECG which shows irregularities, an echo can be done within around two hours. That just wouldn’t happen with the health service here, it’s a very worthwhile service.”
Clearly passionate about the project, she said: “Obviously you will fight for your kids more than anything in this world, and using our mummy power we’ll make sure this clinic is a success for local children.”
Siobhan McAdam, another mother involved in organising the clinic, said: “All of the mums involved want to have their children checked too, but it’s not something that’s easy to do in Northern Ireland, whether you want to pay for it or not.
“Personally, I believe it should be a service made available to everyone when they need if for their children, but as that’s not possible then this clinic is the next best thing.”
Speaking of future plans for the clinic she said: “We’re anticipating a high level of interest from local parents and young people-, and if it goes well we would love this to go province wide.”
Siobhan also emphasised that the service should be utilised by children of all sporting ability. “Children might be involved in athletics, hockey, rugby or anything else, but no matter what level they are playing at, they are probably training several times a week and so could be at risk if they have undetected problems.”
The date and venue of the clinic are yet to be confirmed, as numbers are to be ratified.
Alliance councillor Kieran McCarthy, who is chairman of the Ards Sports Developments Committee, said: “This issue has really come to the forefront in view of now many young athletes have died in recent times.
“This test takes such a short space of time and costs £35, which in my view is well worth the time and effort. I will certainly be encouraging as many young sportsmen and women across the Peninsula as possible to take this tests.”
Cardiac Risk in the Yong (CRY) is a charity founded in 1995 to raise awareness of Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD), Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) and Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS). CRY promotes heart screening and ECG testing programmes in the young on a UK wide basis.
To register to take the test with CRY, or for more information on the clinic, please contact Angela Hamilton on 07874 076 715, Barbara Scott on 07773 686 222, Rosie Colwell on 07821 007 428 or Siobhan McAdams on 07703 360 382.
Forms to register for the test are also available from Mr McCarthy.