Belfast Telegraph

New Children's Heart Centre at Royal Victoria Hospital officially opened

Ulster rugby player Rory Best and Aimee Brady (aged 10) at the opening of the new heart centre at Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
Ulster rugby player Rory Best and Aimee Brady (aged 10) at the opening of the new heart centre at Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

By Mark McConville

A new specalised unit aimed at helping children with heart defects has been officially opened at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

The new centre will provide holistic pre and post-operative care needs for children requiring surgery in Children’s Health Ireland, Crumlin.

It contains state of the art clinical and diagnostic equipment which was donated by Children’s Heartbeat Trust.

There is also a Family Day Room, a quiet space for patients and their families to wait for consultations and test results.

Ulster and Ireland rugby captain Rory Best spoke of how “incredibly special” the Children’s Heart Centre at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children was as he opened it alongside 10-year-old Aimee Brady who is waiting for a heart transplant.

He said: “Whenever you actually meet the staff, the parents and the kids it just becomes even more special and to open it alongside Aimee is the most humbling part.

“She has been through so much but has a smile on her face and she’s just a lovely girl who’s embracing life.”

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Martin Dillon (Chief Executive of Belfast Trust), Moira Kearney (Co-Director of ChildrenÕs Hospital), Professor Frank Casey (Consultant at ChildrenÕs Heart Centre) and Rory Best.

Belfast Trust has continued its partnership with the All-Island CHD Network to create a “world class” CHD service across the island with the opening of the new centre.

Sarah Quinland, chief executive of Children’s Heartbeat Trust said the “one-stop shop” will make the process “much more fluid” in what can be an “extremely stressful” time for families waiting on test results.

This was a view echoed by Best who stressed the need to “maintain a normal life”.

He added: “To have this based in Belfast can help you try to live life as normally as you can.

“To come here in the worst possible circumstances and know you are getting the best possible care on your doorstep is really, really important.

“I know with our kids whenever something happens they need a little bit of normality to take their mind off what they are going through.”

Although Best may be the bigger name the star of the show was Aimee Brady who has been in hospital for 18 weeks awaiting a donor.

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Heart centre

She was looking forward to “sitting underneath the aircon” after opening the new centre in a warm room packed with people.

Her mum, Valerie, spoke of the need for organ donation after having her eyes opened by Aimee’s situation.

She said: “It is so important to donate because it is something that money can’t buy.

“It doesn’t matter what you do in life. There’s no way I can help her now and you have to rely on somebody else.

“Before we were in this position I probably wouldn’t have thought much about it but now I can see Aimee and other children waiting for heart transplants and see how sick they are and how much it affects the whole family circle.”

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Heart centre

The Congenital Heart Disease All Island Network was established in March 2015, and is the first of its kind, providing an all-island service surpassing politics and borders.

The network manages a delivery model for congenital heart disease, building on existing services and drawing them together in a system which is patient focused and locally responsive.

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