Dillon Quirke Foundation call for mandatory heart screenings in Derry and across Ireland

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On average, 100 young people die in Ireland each year because of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS). Many of these deaths could be prevented by identifying heart conditions at an early stage – before they cause symptoms – through cardiac screening.

A new Foundation was officially launched this week with the ambitious aim of providing life-saving cardiac screening for young people in Derry and across Ireland.

The Dillon Quirke Foundation was established by the family of the late Tipperary hurler, Dillon Quirke, who collapsed and died during a hurling match at Semple Stadium in August 2022. Its aim is to reduce the number of young people in Ireland dying from (SADS).

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Dillon Quirke was 24 when he collapsed during a hurling match and died of (SADS) on August 5 2022 in Semple Stadium, Thurles. Dillon died while captaining his club, Clonoulty-Rossmore, in a championship match against Kilruane McDonaghs.

Saoirse Lally and Niamh Boland pictured at the launch of the Dillon Quirke Foundation in Buswells Hotel, Dublin.Saoirse Lally and Niamh Boland pictured at the launch of the Dillon Quirke Foundation in Buswells Hotel, Dublin.
Saoirse Lally and Niamh Boland pictured at the launch of the Dillon Quirke Foundation in Buswells Hotel, Dublin.

The Foundation was then established by Dillon’s family – his parents Dan and Hazel, and his sisters Shannon and Kellie – with the aim of funding widespread cardiac screening for young people (aged 12-18) involved in sport. Dillon’s family want to prevent other families from going through what they have experienced and, in the process, save lives.

Speaking at the official launch of the Foundation earlier this week, Dillon’s father, Dan Quirke, said: “After Dillon’s death, it didn’t take us long to discover how many young people in Ireland die from SADS every year. Most of these deaths occur in those who participate in high intensity sports and could be prevented with better public awareness of the condition and the benefits of cardiac screening from a young age.

“We have set up the Foundation in Dillon’s memory to create more understanding nationally of how cardiac screening can help save lives, and to provide free screening opportunities for young people."

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Omnibus research conducted by the Dillon Quirke Foundation in January shows widespread public support for cardiac screening of young people. More than 4 in 5 (83%) believe there should be free cardiac screening provided to those aged 12 to 18, with the figure increasing to 88% among parents with children engaged in sport. The research also shows that 71% of the Irish population are aware of SADS. However, less than 22% fully understand what it is, and close to 1 in 3 (29%) have only heard the name or aren’t aware of the condition at all.

Niall Quinn pictured at the launch of the Dillon Quirke Foundation in Buswells Hotel, Dublin.Niall Quinn pictured at the launch of the Dillon Quirke Foundation in Buswells Hotel, Dublin.
Niall Quinn pictured at the launch of the Dillon Quirke Foundation in Buswells Hotel, Dublin.

Although the foundation calls for more than free screenings, they want mandatory screenings: Niall Quinn is the chair of the Dillon Quirke Foundation. Speaking at the launch, he said that there is no doubt that cardiac screening saves lives. “In Italy, all individuals who participate in sports that require regular training and competition must – by law – undergo cardiac screening every year. This has led to an 89% reduction in deaths from SADS since the law was introduced in 1982. Just imagine: if we established a similar system to Italy, we could save 89 lives every year.”

For further information, visit dillonquirkefoundation.com.

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