You have shown generous hearts
Our magnificent readers have done it again, rising to the challenge of raising thousands of pounds to help fund research into a condition which affects around 250 babies born every year in Northern Ireland.
Congenital heart disease is very often undetected until after birth and the joy of having a newborn baby is then replaced with the anxiety as they undergo life-saving and life-changing surgery.
The story of little Joe Degnan from Larne who had surgery at just six days of age to correct a heart defect helped launch the Baby Hearts Appeal just four weeks ago. His story – and the story of several other youngsters who underwent similar experiences – touched the hearts of so many readers and they responded by donating their hard earned money.
This will go to a vital cause. Doctors and academics based here will take part in a detailed study backed by the NI Chest Heart and Stroke charity to try to unravel the mystery of what causes congenital heart conditions. If the causes – and potential preventative measures – can be found the research would have a world-wide impact.
And, proudly, our readers could say that they played an important role.
Sometimes we may think of research as something simply confined to laboratories or computer models but which seldom impacts directly on everyday lives.
That is a misconception. We only have to look at the success of new cancer therapies, better diagnostic tools, and greater understanding of how the disease spreads.
Belfast is a centre of excellence in cancer research and outcomes for many patients have improved significantly. We hope that the research into congenital heart conditions will have a similar impact.
Again thanks to our readers for their generosity. It was fitting that as they contributed to this year's Belfast Telegraph Christmas appeal the result of last year's appeal was being shown. Children's cancer charity, Clic Sargent, has just opened a Home from Home in Belfast where parents can stay while their children receive treatment for cancer in the nearby hospital.
You responded magnificently to that appeal and you did make a difference.