The Mater Heart Appeal has been launched by Leinster’s Rob Kearney, RTE Presenter Kathryn Thomas and Dublin GAA players Alan and Bernard Brogan, who will be lending their support to raising urgently needed funds for The Family Heart Screening Clinic which is located in “Heart House”, 53 Eccles Street, Dublin 7…

In Ireland, more than one young person dies from an undiagnosed heart condition each week. The Mater Heart Appeal raises funds for the Mater Hospital’s Family Heart Screening Clinic, where relatives of loved ones, who have died from SADS (Sudden Adult Death Syndrome) or survived a Sudden Cardiac Arrest, can be screened for undiagnosed heart conditions.

This year from Saturday 5th February to Sunday 13th February, the Mater Heart Appeal will encourage people to donate much needed funds online at www.materfoundation.ie or to buy a Mater Heart Badge which will be on sale nationwide costing just €;2.

A new element this year is ‘ACT’, a campaign which is aimed at creating awareness about the importance of having a defibrillator in all Health/Sports clubs, companies and organisations throughout Ireland. Representing three simple steps which could easily save someone’s life, the campaign calls for clubs with defibrillators or who are considering buying one to ‘A’, ensure that the defibrillator is Accessible, ‘C’ make sure it is Charged and ‘T’ that people are Trained how to use it. A Mater Heart Appeal ACT Pack will be available to order online from Friday 4th February or by calling a special hotline number, helping people nationwide to get the facts and spread awareness about this important issue. This information pack is free.

At the centre of this year’s Mater Heart Appeal is a 30-year-old secondary school teacher, Seaghan Kearney from Dublin, who in October of last year collapsed and suffered a Sudden Cardiac Arrest while playing a five-a-side indoor football game with friends. Experts say that Seaghan’s friends had only minutes to save his life and luckily his friends were quick to react and accessed the club’s defibrillator. Now recognised as an essential piece of equipment in any sports or leisure club, this defibrillator was generously donated to the club by a local pharmacist resulting from the GAA awareness campaign following the tragic death of Cormac McAnallen in 2004. However it had not been checked since and the batteries were out of date. There was enough power left for two blasts, which thankfully revived Seaghan and kept him alive until the ambulance arrived.

Seaghan was admitted to hospital and the doctors implanted an ICD (implantable cardioverter-defribillator) under his arm which will restart his heart should he have another Cardiac Arrest. Seaghan’s family have since all been checked in the Mater Hospital’s Family Heart Screening Clinic, which is recommended if someone has an unexplained sudden death in the family or is a Cardiac Arrest victim.

Seaghan is now working in conjunction with The Mater Heart Appeal to highlight the awareness and importance of defibrillators. Seaghan and his friends have worked with The Mater Foundation to come up with the hugely impactful Mater Heart Appeal ACT Pack which they hope will, in turn, save someone else’s life.

In addition, the events which unfolded as Seaghan suffered his Sudden Cardiac Arrest were caught on CCTV cameras in the football club, which Seaghan and his friends are now incorporating into a reconstruction film, with Seaghan telling his story. They plan to release this through You Tube and Facebook to help highlight this important awareness campaign.

To date the clinic has seen over 1,500 family members who have needed screening because of a SADS death or a family history of inheritable cardiac disease. The clinic is funded solely through The Mater Heart Appeal. As yet no government funding has been received for this clinic in support of its important services.

Mary Moorhead, Chief Executive of The Mater Foundation commented, “The Mater Heart Appeal has been fundraising for the Family Heart Screening Clinic for the last six years and since then, over €;2.1 million has been raised for the vital services. I am delighted we are able to add the ACT campaign as a new element of the Mater Heart Appeal as this brings the work of the screening clinic full circle. Getting a defibrillator to a young person who has had a cardiac arrest in a matter of minutes will in turn save their life. The Family Heart Screening Clinic will then do everything they can to give that person a diagnosis for their cardiac arrest. Bringing these two elements together positions the Family Heart Screening Clinic as a centre of excellence.”

Dr Joseph Galvin, Consultant Cardiologist in the Mater Hospital stated, “Many of the cardiac arrhythmias and structural defects that may cause sudden death in the young are identifiable through screening. With treatment, many people with these conditions can potentially have normal life spans and lifestyles.”

Since launching in 2007 The Mater Foundation, together with The Mater Cardiac Team, have been raising funds to aid research projects and the development of the Family Heart Screening Clinic. As a result, the Cardiologists have been able to expand the number of clinics they are delivering, as well as increase the range of tests that are being carried out, offering an even more thorough screening process. In addition, these changes have also dramatically increased the number of families they are able to screen while reducing the waiting time considerably.

ACT now and Donate or order your Mater ACT Pack online at www.materfoundation.ie

The Mater Heart Appeal will take place from February 5th to February 13th 2011

Mater Heart badges will be on sale nationwide and cost €;2