Damien Duff with members of the Galway Cycle committee . Picture: Ben Kelly
Up to 150 students from Maynooth University and friends left the town early this morning to take on a mammoth 400 kms cycle to raise funds for the charity, Heart Children.
They are well on the road to Galway and will cycle back on Sunday.
The money raised will fund the charity’s INR home-testing programme which provides children on warfarin medication with a medical device to monitor their blood readings from home without needing to make regular visits to hospital.
"Approximately 5-600 babies are born annually in Ireland with a range of over 40 different structural anomalies, collectively termed as Congenital Heart Defects,” said Sheila Campbell, CEO Heart Children Ireland.
“Milder forms of the condition can be corrected with surgery while more extreme cases of the disease will require life-long medical and surgical treatment.
“Some children, whose condition requires them to be on warfarin, need their bloods checked regularly yet may live long distances from a general hospital.
“Taking bloods, using needles and finding veins can be very time consuming and traumatic, and the simplicity of home-testing is less emotionally draining and more effective for the child and the whole family unit.
“This method also reduces the risk of infection for children with lowered immunity, and having one of these devices means they no longer need to travel to an adult general hospital.
“It also removes the psychological trauma for children of having bloods drawn and reduces the stress load for families caring for a child with a long-term illness.
“The cost of supplying one of these devices is approximately €500 and in 2021 requests to Heart Children for the supply of the devices increased by 375%, largely driven by the Covid pandemic – this trend is likely to continue.”
The Galway Cycle was established in 1987 by a group of students and has taken place annually ever since – with the exception of 2020 – raising more than €1.8 million for a variety of children’s charities.
PRO Conor McHugh said that the organisers were delighted to make a difference to the lives of the children and families affected by congenital heart disease.
“When we decided to cycle this year in aid of Heart Children, we were very drawn to the idea of funding something as simple and practical – and yet life changing – as the CoaguChek Home-testing Programme,” he said.
“We ran the 2021 Galway Cycle as a virtual event and April 2019 was the last time we actually cycled to Galway, so we’re very much looking forward to arriving into Eyre Square again!"
The video below is from the Galway Cycle Facebook page and captured the cyclists heading off on their journey.
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