BraveheartsNI was inspired and developed by Shealyn Caulfield in 2014 when she was just 14 years old and admitted again into the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) in heart failure. We realised that she now had to be admitted into the adult ward where there was nothing to support her stay as a young teenager. Indeed, we had to wait 11 hours for a bed in the cardiac department and the only one available was in with 5 pensioner men!!
The recently established Adult Congenital Heart Disease team in the RVH, Belfast had no additional support and therefore together we devised BraveheartsNI.
BraveheartsNI is Northern Ireland’s only charity supporting the needs of our teenagers and young adults with ACHD. BraveheartsNI has grown from the strong volunteer ethos of HeartbeatNI who are also a local volunteer charity who support families with children with congenital heart disease.
Congenital Heart disease is one of the most common types of birth defect, affecting up to 9 in every 1,000 babies born in the UK. Currently the ACHD team in the RVH care for 5,000 patients annually and this demographic group is growing due to advancements in medical science; many of you are living well into adulthood.
Bravehearts NI is largely run by the Bravehearts themselves with both dedication and pride. Everyone is a volunteer. For the first time they are able to shape the help and support they need as teenagers and adults which was never available before, simply due to the fact our CHD children weren’t surviving this long into their adulthood.