Stem Cells: A Second Chance

Brief History

When Brendan was 18 he noticed strange sensations in his chest. It felt like his heart was skipping a beat, then beating rapidly and followed by a feeling like he had just gotten a fright. He went for a check-up and got a 3 lead ECG which showed no irregularities so was sent home and told it was probably just stress. During college this feeling became more common and by age 26 the frequency and intensity was at a worrying level. Upon returning to the doctor he was given a stress test and an echocardiogram which led to Brendan getting sent for an MRI to confirm a diagnosis.

Brendan has been diagnosed with a genetic heart condition called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. This condition affects about 1 in 500 people and has a huge range of symptoms depending on the stage. One of the main concerns with this condition is that it is responsible for Sudden Cardiac Death or “Sudden Adult Death Syndrome”, and this can occur at any stage of the condition. This has been seen many times with athletes dropping dead on the field. It does not even require the person to be engaged in high intensity activity. It just required enough disruption in the electrical activity of the heart to trigger the fatal rhythm. As this condition progresses, the chance of this occurring becomes more likely.

Treatment Options

Once he was finally diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) he was told his symptoms were not severe enough to be offered treatment here. Instead he was offered annual monitoring of the condition. This is not the news anyone wants to hear. So, when Brendan heard Dr. Neil Riordan talking about stem cell therapy on a Joe Rogan podcast he began to get hope for a new treatment option.

He began to research currently available treatments for his condition. Once he discovered this clinic were able to treat many heart problems, including HCM, Brendan submitted all his medical history to be evaluated and was offered a treatment plan.

However, the cost of this treatment is $29,150 which is approximately €25,000. This is not an easy task, but he is a determined person and has started to put a plan to fundraise this money. Brendan was unfortunate to lose his father at 16 years of age to an undiagnosed heart condition and does not want his son to go through the same.

How You Can Help?

Brendan will be organizing several fundraisers to raise the money he needs for this treatment. The first, Songs for Stem Cells will be in the Rowing Club (Woodquay, Galway City) at 8pm on May 18th.

This is a concert with 3 different acts playing a variety of music. There is no entry fee just pay a donation of your choice. There will be a raffle on the night and the artists will be also selling their CD’s will all the money going to the cause.

I think everyone is aware of the severity of SADS and most people know someone who is suffering from some form of heart disease. Thankfully the treatment available under Dr. Neil Riordan is effective to treat Brendan’s condition. Once his fundraising is complete he will be able to receive this life-changing therapy.

Join him on May 18th to find out more about his journey and help him get closer to his €25,000 target. There will be more events on the horizon including a table quiz in the Roisin Dubh but for now all donations can be made online on the following page:

https://www.gofundme.com/stem-cells-for-brendan039s-heart

About the Author

Grainne Siriwardhana
Originally from Monaghan, Grainne came to Galway in 2011 to study a MSc in Biotechnology in NUIG. After graduating she stayed in the city and has now made it her home. She lives with her husband and works full time while also leading a Unislim class in Renmore. After recently taking up running to coincide with her new healthy lifestyle, she completed the Streets of Galway and Run Galway Bay half marathon last year. The goal for this year is to compete against and beat last year's times!