Dungiven teen backs cardiac campaign

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A Dungiven teen waiting on a heart transplant is supporting an online campaign to ensure pediatric cardiac surgery stays in Northern Ireland.

Almost 14,000 followers on Facebook are supporting the campaign, which started a fortnight ago, following a report by Professor Sir Ian Kennedy, who said the continuation of paediatric cardiac surgery services at ‘The Royal’ is under discussion.

Brave Ryan O’Connor is 18 and has had seven cardiac surgeries since he was just one-week-old. He says everything must be done to keep services in the North.

“The doctors in Belfast are great, just as good as anywhere else,” he said.

While most of Ryan’s medical treatment is now managed in Newcastle, he says: “Having been through this, I wouldn’t want sick children to have to travel to England.”

Also supportive of the campaign is Conor Lavery from Dungiven, whose 15-month-old baby daughter Bronagh is waiting on a date for heart surgery.

“This is a very sensitive subject and it can’t come down to pounds and pence,” he said.

“The cost to a family regarding the impact of travel and the levels of stress is immeasurable. It’s not as simple as sweeping a pen across a page and saying, ‘here are your margins’. It’s massive.”

Mr. Lavery says he and his wife, Toni have a fantastic circle of family support to help them when needed, but says some families aren’t so fortunate.

“I couldn’t begin to imagine what that is like,” he said. “It really is immeasurable.”