THIS weekend Cardiac Risk in the Young (Cry) will host a second screening clinic on the North Coast.
Local campaigner, John Lundy has been a leading advocate of screening, since the death of his son Aaron back in 1999.
Aaron, a keen golfer and footballer, died at the age of 19 from a treatable heart condition.
We spoke to John ahead of this weekend’s clinic, and he was keen to highlight the importance of screening young people.
“We’ve worked closely with CRY in the UK to provide screenings across Northern Ireland,” he said.
“We want to make screening as widely available as we can, to as many people as possible. It’s sad to say, but the most interest in screening comes after someone dies from a cardiac condition and it is reported in the media.
“Unfortunately that is the sad situation, but I have made it my goal to make as many young people aware of the screening.
“The fact of the matter for me and my family is that my son Aaron had a treatable condition. The screening is a simple procedure which would have saved his life and that is something that is constantly with me.”
John went on to appeal to parents, sports coaches and teachers to encourage young people to have the simple ECG test done. “ The screening identifies many of the problems in the heart, and because we have a cardiologist present we can carry out a further echocardiogram,” explained John.
“From there the cardiologist is able to discuss with the individual what the next steps are in terms on medical treatment, should there be a problem.”
John doesn’t want other parents to go through what he and his family have had to cope with, he said “ It is very hard for young people to face up to the realisation that they may have a serious condition.
“But surely it is better to know about it and get it diagnosed and treated than ignore it. Often the first symptom is sudden death. That leaves a catastrophic situation behind. Parents, brothers, sisters, friends, husbands and wives – you name it, it can almost destroy a family.
“The grief never really leaves them; they remember the person for the rest of their lives. We have examples in CRY of families losing perhaps two children. That is an unimaginable loss to bear.”
John and other CRY representatives in the Coleraine area are always working hard to highlight the work of the charity and the importance of heart screening, “ We are lucky here in the Coleraine area, we have a lot of people that raise money for CRY and that is fantastic,” said John.
“It is a great tribute to the memory of Aaron that his friends, and indeed people that never met him, do these things in his memory.
“However, there are still clubs and teams locally and school children that have yet to be screened. We provided a screening service last year and invited local schools in to get their pupils screened.
“We would appeal to parents; coaches and teachers to encourage young people aged 14 to 35 to get screened.
“My experience with my son Aaron and all the great memories I have of him would make me give people just one simple message - Go Get Screened,” concluded John.
A CRY screening clinic will be held this Saturday and Sunday, June 4 and 5 at UUC.
Screening is open to young people aged between 14 and 35.
During the screening a CRY cardiologist is in attendance to read the ECG and Echocardiogram, if an Echo is required.
If any further medical referral is needed, the Cardiologist is on hand to offer expert advice.
There are still places left, to book a slot log on to http://www.c-r-y.org.uk/ecg.htm, the cost is £35.