Fundraiser Emily shows she has a heart of gold

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Little Emily was just a year and a half old when her mum, Banbridge woman Jenny Johnston, discovered she had two different heart conditions.

Speaking after a successful fundraising event at Banbridge Golf Club which raised £1,500 for Heartbeat NI, Jenny, said: “When we found out, Emily was very small and it was such a big shock.

“I didn’t know there was anything seriously wrong with her. I’d brought her to the doctor because I thought she had a cold, but was told that her heart was going too fast. It was doing 280 beats per minute, when it should only have been around 100.

“Emily didn’t show any major signs that something was wrong. Her lips and complexion never turned blue or anything like that, so we had no idea she had heart problems.”

Emily’s condition is called Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) and Jenny explained: “Basically the heart’s electrical system doesn’t work right, causing the heart to beat very fast. This is more likely to happen when she is sick.

“We have been told that Emily will probably need an operation when she is in her teens, but for now her condition is kept under control with medication that she takes twice a day. She is also monitored very closely.”

Jenny is thankful, for she says Emily’s heart condition is not as serious as some but nonetheless it’s still a worry, and is difficult to know how the condition will affect her as she gets older.

Jenny said: “To look at her, everyone thinks she is alright, but it’s still a continual worry for us, especially when she takes any kind of sickness. Thankfully it’s now been a year since her last episode.”

Emily is enjoying all the fundraising attention. Jenny said: “She’s an imp, and she just loved getting her picture taken at the cheque presentation.”

After their experiences with Emily, Jenny had decided they would like to do fund-raising for a heart charity. They had checked out several but decided they liked the work Heartbeat NI was doing.

“This is our second year of fundraising,” Jenny said. “Last year we did a coffee morning, but the quiz night was a really big success.

“My partner Paul Downier is a member of Banbridge Golf Club, so they kindly gave us the room free of charge.”

Heartbeat NI is dedicated to supporting families of children with congenital and acquired heart conditions. Their network helps parents through the trauma of finding out their child has a heart defect. Over 200 babies are born each year in Northern Ireland with heart conditions.