Northern Ireland news

Groundbreaking research into SADS funded by charity set up in memory of Tyrone star Cormac McAnallen

Professor Frank Casey with Cormac Trust Fellow Dr Habitha Sulaiman - the first person to fill the role

GROUNDBREAKING research into Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS) is being carried out in Northern Ireland after Tyrone GAA star Cormac McAnallen's family funded the work of two academics.

The 24-year-old All-Ireland winning captain died at his home from the condition in March 2004 and his family founded the Cormac Trust in his honour.

The charity works to raise awareness of sudden cardiac deaths in young people, promote screening, provide automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and CPR training for sports clubs and promote education and information to raise awareness at government level.

As part of that commitment to education it has funded the Cormac Trust Fellowship in Inherited Cardiac Conditions at Belfast Trust, with Dr Habitha Sulaiman the first person to fill the role.

The post was made possible by The Cormac Trust funding 50 per cent of her salary and since taking the role Dr Sulaiman has been working in the clinical service seeing patients and involved in a number of research initiatives at the regional service.

The training and experience in the post will provide the basis for a career as a consultant cardiologist specialising in such conditions.

Professor Frank Casey, lead clinician paediatric cardiology at the trust said the team at the service also "investigate close family members where there has been an unexplained sudden cardiac death in a young person".

They also work with Belfast City's Hospital's genetics department to provide testing for those families "where it is relevant".

"By supporting the Clinical Fellow post the Cormac Trust has made a very valuable and much appreciated contribution to support affected families in Northern Ireland, Professor Casey said.

The second tranche of funding went to nurse Lorraine McGlinchey for her PhD at Ulster University into nursing of Inherited Cardiac Conditions.

Ms McGlinchey's interest in the area has a personal dimension after losing several members of her family to catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT), a condition characterised by an abnormal heart rhythm.

Cormac's mother Bridget, said while the pandemic has hit the charity's ability to fund raise as it had planned this year, it hopes to fund a further year of the fellowship and perhaps more in the future.

"It is a very difficult time for fundraising but we are pleased to be able to contribute to this research," she said.

"Very often people are only screened after they have had a collapse, but in a lot of cases you are lucky if you recover. Very often with SADS your first collapse is your last.

"People need to remember that the condition causes sudden death in healthy people and people do need to be screened."

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