It only took a heartbeat for Derry man Liam Wilson to sign up for the firmus energy City of Culture Triathlon taking place this weekend.
However, it was a very special heartbeat that swayed Liam into pledging to take part in the event on Sunday (June 23).
That heartbeat belongs to his young daughter, Orlaigh (2), who has a condition called supraventricular tachycardia, also known as SVT. Liam is competing in the gruelling test of endurance in aid of the Children’s Heartbeat Trust which has supported Orlaigh and the family throughout her illness which was diagnosed in 2011.
Liam explains: “A few months after her first birthday, we had taken Orlaigh to the ‘out of hours’ doctor one evening as she had a bad tummy bug. During the routine examination, the doctor checked and re-checked her heartbeat and immediately alerted us to the fact that her heart was racing at 250 beats per minute (bpm) instead of 100/120bpm.
“Upon further investigations, and a lengthy stay at the specialist Clark Clinic in The Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Orlaigh was diagnosed with SVT which means her heart beats too rapidly which is extremely dangerous if it continues to rise.
“Orlaigh is on medication and will remain so to try to control this. She may be suitable for an operation when she is around five years old but we will have to see how her condition develops. If she does need the operation, it could, potentially, be carried out in Belfast but heart surgery is under threat here so we may need to take her to Dublin or Birmingham at that point.
“Orlaigh is a toddler now and she knows to say to us if she feels that her heart is beating a bit quicker than it should be. We have to watch her to make sure she doesn’t get over-excited or run around too much as that can make her heart rate rise dangerously and would mean an emergency trip to hospital. It is a constant worry but we want her to be able to enjoy herself to the best of her abilities so she doesn’t miss out on fun activities.”