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Mum and son (3) with life-threatening heart conditions raising vital funds for defibrillator

A Banbridge mother who, along with her three-year-old son, suffers from a life-threatening heart condition is raising money in a bid to install a defibrillator in their home.

Lisa McGurnaghan and her three-year-old son Dan both have been diagnosed with Long QT syndrome – better known as Sudden Death Syndrome.

The condition affects repolarisation of the heart after a heartbeat, which causes an increased risk of fainting, drowning, or indeed, sudden death.

Lisa told Armagh I that the condition is one of those that no one knows about until it’s too late, adding that she “got away with it for 25 years before I was diagnosed”.

The young mum explained  how she was constantly fainting and blacking out when out for a run or doing any form of physical exercise

“Every time I went to hospital – sometimes in emergency situations – they told me it was just dehydration, or I was too skinny as a kid,” she explained.

However, when she started fainting as an adult Lisa realised this was a little more serious as she, in her own words, said “life was ebbing out of her”.

The condition is set off by triggers usually linked to exercise or stress but can be as simple as an alarm clock going off in the morning.

“Kids can be out running or playing rugby or Gaelic and it’s lights out; it’s a silent killer,” said Lisa.

Long QT is hereditary but can also be brought on by taking certain medications in later life without people being aware.

So, when Lisa fell pregnant she was told by doctors that there was 50% chance her son would be diagnosed with the same condition.

She acted immediately, opting for a caesarean section at the Royal hospital so that her son Dan could be checked out straight away.

Dan was diagnosed with the Long QT, which has been managed through medication from birth.

“Following my diagnosis we were able to find out my mum had it but luckily the rest of the family were okay,” Lisa added.

Raising money for a defibrillator in the house “will give us peace of mind” Lisa admitted, “knowing that if something were to happen at least we were prepared and had done everything we could”.

The chances of Lisa and Dan’s survival, if anything were to happen, would rise from 6% to 75% with the purchase of a defibrillator.

Despite being located in their home the defibrillator will also be registered with the ambulance and be added to a database for members of the public to find the nearest one.

Lisa was also keen to highlight the importance of having young people screened for the condition.

You can help by donating on Lisa and Dan’s JustGiving page.

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