Help pump life into campaign

Real fighter: James Mohan with his mother Brenda. James will need a heart transplant in future.

A fundraising drive aims to support kids with heart defects writes Helen O’Callaghan.

A GIANT heart erected on Dublin’s O’Connell Street for St Valentine’s Day is not a romantic gesture but an appeal to passers-by to make a donation to Heart Children Ireland.

The eye-catching Perspex heart on the corner of North Earl Street and O’Connell Street will be there between 9am and 6pm today. With the motto, ‘fill the heart with love”, all funds raised will go towards supporting parents and families of children born with a congenital heart defect — a defect in the structure of the heart and blood vessels which is present at birth.

During the first 24 hours after James Mohan, 12, was born, his mum, Brenda, never dreamed he would need a heart transplant by the time he reached his late teens or early 20s. “He was feeding great. He should have appeared blue but he didn’t. He was gorgeous,” says the Cabra-based mum of three.

Just a day after his birth at the Rotunda, doctors saw he was “a very sick baby” and transferred him to Crumlin, where he was diagnosed with transposition of the great artery, pulmonary stenosis and a single left ventricle. A nurse friend of Brenda’s explained: James’s pulmonary valve and aorta were back to front, he had a narrow The little boy has had three bouts of surgery — these improved his energy levels and growth. “He’d have been quite blue in the lips and getting quite lethargic coming up to his second operation,” says Brenda, who says James continues to get tired very easily. “He stayed over at a friend’s last Saturday night and was totally wrecked on Monday. If he’s playing chase in the schoolyard, he’s caught straightaway — he would never be able to chase and catch anyone. He appears normal so it’s very hard for his peers to accept that he has a sick heart.”

James plays the violin and swims, he loves to cook and likes to play Minecraft. “He’s a very brave little fellow with a funny sense of humour. He has taught me a lot,” says his mum, who describes her son as a fighter. “If he really wants to achieve something, he will do it.”

The initiative is part of Heart Children’s Ireland annual windmill fundraising campaign and the charity is hoping to raise €50,000 from the various activities taking place nationwide this weekend.

FACTS

¦ Congenital heart defect accounts for 1% of all live births per year. It’s the most common birth abnormality.

¦ In the past year, Heart Children Ireland donated 35 Coagu-Chek machines, worth €20,000, to the congenital heart clinic in the Mater Hospital.

¦ 18 oxygen saturation monitors were given to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin.


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