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We’re doing this for Joe

HEARTFELT: The family of Joe Burns are to pull on their runners for the Marathon HEARTFELT: The family of Joe Burns are to pull on their runners for the Marathon
By Evan Short

THE still heartbroken family of Chester doorman Joe Burns, who passed away three years ago from a rare heart condition, are to run Monday’s Belfast Marathon on behalf of the British Heart Foundation to raise cash to help others like them.

Popular Whitewell man Joe died in July 2014 after collapsing at his parents’ home from the rare genetic heart defect ‘LongQT’. He was just 23.

Joe was an extremely fit and seemingly healthy boxer who trained regularly. The tragedy was compounded when his girlfriend Sinead discovered the day after his death that she was pregnant with their daughter Bella – who is now two years old.

After Joe’s death, the family’s trauma deepened when it took a year to find out how Joe had died, with his heart going to specialists in France for medical investigations which discovered the genetic abnorbality responsible for his death.

The Burns family have since learned Joe’s mum Una and sister Jeanette both carry the faulty gene, an inherited condition that can cause heart rhythm disturbances. Left undiagnosed, it can cause sudden death when someone has an unexpected cardiac arrest.

To raise awareness and cash for research, 10 members of the family and friends are running the Belfast Marathon on Monday for the British Heart Foundation so they can continue their vital research into the gene and a range of other inherited heart conditions. Joe’s dad, Joe Snr, told the North Belfast News that they wanted to help fund the research in order to save lives.

“After Joe died we didn’t know what had caused it,” he said. “His heart was sent away for tests and even now these tests are still ongoing. Our family was referred to the Royal Hospital for cascade genetic testing. We had amazing support from BHF nurse Tracy Jardine who was just fantastic. She was always on hand to answer questions and help us through the tests.

“We were getting lots of letters with test results and Tracy was always there to explain them and give us reassurance. On top of the grief of Joe’s death we had the worry that we might have an inherited heart condition.

“Joe was always giving back and we want to give back too. That’s why this year we are running the Belfast Marathon in his memory for BHF. Firstly because of the support we had from Tracy and also to fund research into Long QT and other heart conditions that take the lives of young people like our son.”

BHF estimates that around 17,500 people in the north are living with a faulty gene that puts them at high risk of a heart attack at a young age – or even sudden death.

“We have been training hard for the marathon and are delighted that ten of us are taking part in relay teams and there are two more doing the full marathon for Joe. We don’t want other families to suffer like we have suffered, so knowing the money we are raising for BHF will go into research into Long QT and other heart conditions that take our young people is brilliant.

“We want to thank all our family and friends for their support and we’re looking forward to crossing that finish line on Monday.”

Karen McCammon, specialist heart nurse in BHF NI, said: “We want to thank the Burns family and all their family and friends for their generosity. One young person in Northern Ireland dies every month from a heart condition they didn’t know they had.”

  • To donate to the family’s fundraising visit




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