Give a gift that will keep on giving
Over the past few weeks this newspaper has been carrying reports on children who were born with congenital heart defects and who then faced a series of serious operations to enable them to lead a fuller life as they developed.
These children were just a sample of the 400 babies born with the cardiac defects in Northern Ireland every year. In the vast majority of cases the parents do not know anything is wrong until after the birth.
The causes of congenital heart defects are not known, but an ambitious research project to be undertaken by academics from the University of Ulster and cardiologists from the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick children and supported by the NI Chest Heart and Stroke charity is aimed at unravelling the mystery.
This is a project which potentially could save – or enhance – the lives of millions of children yet to be born around the world.
Having heard how the parents featured in these pages went through weeks, months and years of worry after the shock diagnosis of their babies' condition, imagine the relief other parents in the future would feel if they knew there were preventative measures they could take to safeguard their unborn babies' health.
You can help make that quest a reality through a simple donation to our Baby Hearts Appeal.
We have pledged to encourage 800 of our readers to back this valuable research project by Christmas Eve. We realise that there are many demands on people's finances at this time of the year, and especially in these recessionary times.
Yet this is no ordinary appeal. Your gift of £25, or whatever you can afford, is one that could go on giving for ever if the research fulfils its aims.
At a time when Christians around the world celebrate a momentous birth, what better way to mark the occasion than by helping to ensure the good health of many more babies yet to be born. We know that you will not let us, or them, down.