Malachi Cush sings praises of our Babies' Hearts appeal
Television presenter Malachi Cush has spoken of his deeply personal reasons for backing the Belfast Telegraph's Christmas appeal to help save the lives of babies battling heart conditions.
The Tyrone singing star is backing the Baby Hearts Appeal and believes that the Northern Ireland public will respond generously to the plight of seriously ill babies.
The married man, who one day hopes to have his own children, was shocked to learn how many babies die from congenital heart conditions every year.
"By supporting this appeal, the money will fund research that will help save babies' lives," he said. "I've met some of the children cured by the doctors at the Royal and it's been wonderful to see them looking so well.
"But I've also been into the wards to see the quiet despair of parents of these tiny babies who are fighting for their lives."
He became an ambassador in September for our campaign partner – Chest Heart & Stroke – which is raising funds towards a potentially groundbreaking Northern Ireland research study.
Our appeal aims to cover the cost of 110 babies and their parents to be included in the overall study, which is being carried out by the University of Ulster in conjunction with paediatric cardiologists at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.
Over the next three years, the research project aims to study babies and parents with and without congenital heart disease – heart problems detected while the baby is still growing in the womb – to determine the likely causes and then to prevent them.
Malachi co-hosts UTV's Magazine programme with Sarah Travers on Friday, and presents a Northern Ireland current affairs programme.
The 33-year-old knows from bitter experience what cardiovascular illness can do to families.
His father had a triple heart bypass operation at the age of 40 and will need an operation to insert a stent next year.
Malachy's grandfather died of a heart attack, his aunt was paralysed down her right-hand side at the age of just 36, and his mother has had a mini stroke.
"It's a subject that's close to me," said Malachi.
"And if I can do anything to help families whose children have been affected by congenital heart disease, I will.
"That's why I'm supporting the Baby Hearts Appeal. I hope the research it's funding will make a breakthrough and save other families from the conditions that have affected the children the Telegraph is featuring in its appeal.
"Even a small amount of money can help us make a big difference. The subject of heart disease has also been on my mind because I've reached 33."
Malachi, who just became an uncle again, to a healthy baby niece, added: "It's the time of your life when you have to keep an eye on your health, especially with my family history.
"I'm backing the appeal. I hope you will, too."
ABOUT OUR APPEAL ... AND WHAT YOU CAN DO
OUR AIM: to help fund Belfast-based research into congenital heart disease in babies by raising at least £20,000 through our campaign
OUR TARGET: to enlist 800 supporters who will donate £25 each, covering research costs for 110 babies in Northern Ireland
HOW TO HELP: you can make a donation via www.nichs.org.uk/baby or alternatively telephone 028 9180 2080
USE YOUR COUPON: just print out the coupon below , fill in your details below and send it to the address at the bottom to make a contribution to this vital three-year study