TRAGEDY OF SOCCER PLAYER HELPS SAVE OTHER LIVES
The family and friends of a Belfast man who died tragically young from a heart condition are helping a leading charity with a unique service to save other people’s lives.
Gary Morris, a keen footballer, died in February at the age of 33 from heart problems brought on by Familial Hypercholesterolaemia (FH). The genetic condition affects one in 500 people and causes an unusually high production of cholesterol in the body. There are no warning signs and people affected are often unaware that they have the condition until it is too late.
Now, Gary’s family are involved in a series of football tournaments to help NI Chest Heart & Stroke kick–start a service to identify everyone in Northern Ireland with FH.
The charity’s Chief Executive, Andrew Dougal, said:”We have been interested in FH and measures to combat it for many years. Research funded by this charity identified two abnormalities in genes which caused the condition, and families with that genetic mutation were able to be identified and treated. But our decision to launch this new service with £37,000 start–up funding will have even more far–reaching effects.”
The money will enable the Northern Ireland–wide service – co–ordinated at Belfast City Hospital but involving hospitals in every area – to establish itself with the necessary equipment. The Health Service will hopefully provide specialist nurses to advise and assist families in each Health Trust area.
Said Mr Dougal: “For the first time, we will have a regional register of all people affected by FH in Northern Ireland and doctors will be able to undertake screening of subsequent generations of the families involved. Since FH is one of the most common inherited genetic conditions, it has huge potential to enable early intervention to save lives. We are very grateful to Gary Morris’s brothers Gerald and Stephen, and Corrymeela Football Club for helping us with the fundraising drive. It’s a tribute to Gary’s memory that many other lives will be saved.”
The Gary Morris Memorial Tournament and the Corrymeela FC Tournament – both of which will help raise funds – are being played between now and the end of August. More details at www.corrymeelafc.com .
Anyone else wishing to contribute can make a secure online donation at www.nichs.org.uk.