One Hospital Down

Now for the rest of the world:

Expert 'to track heart defects'

The Royal Victoria Hospital has appointed a specialist to detect heart defects in babies still in the womb.

The position is a joint venture between the Belfast hospital and local charity Heartbeat.

Angela McBrien, the new research fellow for antenatal screening for congenital heart disease, will be working with expectant mothers across NI.

She will track and increase early detection of any heart abnormalities in unborn children.

"Evidence shows that for some heart conditions, the earlier they are identified, the better the outcome for the child," said Angela.

"We are set up so that we can even treat certain conditions while the child is in the womb - so the earlier that we can detect conditions the better for the mum and baby."

Irwyn McKibben from Heartbeat said it was an exciting development for parents across Northern Ireland.

"They can now benefit from a joined up coordinated screening service and the reassurance that children get the earliest possible chance when it comes to heart problems," he said.

One expectant mother with a history of congenital heart disease in her family, Sharon Gibson, has been told her baby has a normal heart.

"Parents are given the help and advice that they need to deal with the situation and the support we received really reassured us," she said.
We spoke to our local hospital before to ask "Why is this sort of thing not checked for routinely" and the reply we got was "It's too expensive". Joy.

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