The launch of the new Children’s Heart Centre at the Children’s Hospital heralds a new era of care for children with congenital heart disease in Northern Ireland. The charity has welcomed the completion of the new facility at the Children’s Hospital, and have highlighted the direct benefits it will bring to many children across Northern Ireland and their families. The centre was officially opened by Ireland and Ulster Rugby star Rory Best and 10 year-old Aimee Brady, who is waiting for a heart transplant.
The Children’s Heartbeat Trust has campaigned for a dedicated centre for children with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) since the setting up of the All-Island CHD network, and has worked closely with the Belfast Health & Social Care Trust and the Department for Health to ensure that the facility meets the needs of the children and families. The charity provided over £50,000 of financial support to create a warm and welcoming child and family-centred environment. This includes sensory equipment in the waiting areas and investigation rooms, iPads and interactive panels to engage children of all ages and wonderful artwork throughout the centre.
The new facility will deliver crucial aspects of the ongoing care for children with heart defects, including the provision of segregated specialist outpatient clinics, imaging services, day procedure cases, a research and telemedicine hub, as well as specialist diagnosis and treatment for babies and children. Patients at the centre will range from new-born babies right up to teenagers.
Cutting the ribbon to officially open the Children’s Heart Centre was 10 year-old Aimee Brady from Magherafelt, who is currently waiting for a heart transplant. Aimee has a complex congenital heart defect called Double-Inlet Left Ventricle with Pulmonary Atresia and has undergone 3 open heart surgeries in her life so far. Aimee was placed on the UK heart transplant list in January of this year and, until a suitable heart donor becomes available, has to stay in hospital. For the last 18 weeks Clark Clinic at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children has been home, and will be until she has her transplant. Aimee first came to the public’s attention in 2015 when she featured in the charity’s ‘Ever Been Heartbroken?’ campaign.
Speaking at the opening, Children’s Heartbeat Trust Chief Executive, Sarah Quinlan said “Paediatric cardiac care has faced considerable changes in recent years, and it is essential that children from across Northern Ireland continued to receive the highest level of care possible. A dedicated Children’s Heart Centre in Northern Ireland is a crucial element in the provision of this world class treatment and care for these children.
“Aimee’s circumstances highlight the continued need for world-class healthcare provision in Belfast. The paediatric cardiology team here look after some of the most complex cases for some of the sickest children in Northern Ireland and it is essential that we have the proper facilities in place to care for these vulnerable children. Aimee’s story also highlights the need for increased awareness about the importance of organ donation. Children’s Heartbeat Trust is committed to promoting organ donation and we encourage all members of the public to have those difficult conversations with their family about their wishes for them and their children. It could save a child like Aimee’s life.”
For more information on how to join the organ donation register register please visit /www.organdonationni.info.