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NI child heart patients going to Dublin triple in number

From BBC - November 20, 2017

The number of children from Northern Ireland receiving heart surgery in Dublin has almost tripled this year.

Between January and September, 23 children travelled to Our Lady Children's Hospital in Dublin, compared to just eight in all of 2016.

There has also been an increase in adolescent patients from the Republic travelling north for treatment.

Children's heart surgery services at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) ceased in 2015.

Leading world heart specialists who attended a weekend conference in Belfast were told the all-island Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) Network is delivering better outcomes for children across Ireland.

Keynote speaker Dr Christopher Caldarone, from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, told BBC News NI that countries had a lot to learn from the network.

"I am looking forward to learning how the network is evolving here," he said.

"We have a complex network in Ontario where we have patients cared for on four or five different sites.

"We use a lot of teleconferencing, a lot of sharing of information. We can learn from our colleagues in Belfast and Dublin who are already working together."

Family close-by

A number of heart families also attended to share their experience.

Annette Savage and her daughter Rianna said the service meant that care was provided just 100 miles away.

Rianna, an 11-year-old pupil at St Louise's Comprehensive College in Belfast, said being treated at Our Lady's Hospital meant all her family could be close-by.

"Being in Dublin meant my two brothers could come and visit me. It also meant my mum and my dad could stay," she said.

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