Climbing Mountains to help
Children with CHD
Mountain 4 Hearts is a group of volunteers from Northern Ireland and Panama. Motivated by little Fey Hill's battle and with a love of hiking and mountain climbing in common, we formed M4H to help create awareness and raise funds for charities helping children born with a CHD (congenital heart defect).
Our aim is to set up expeditions and challenges to raise funds for charities that are involved in battling heart disease in children. We will concentrate our efforts to help recognised NI heart charity Heartbeat NI and the Panamanian charity Fundacion Latidos, aswell as helping individual children from Panama. Why Panama? Well, there is no Cardiology Institute in Panama and there are currently (feb 2018) more than 200 children on a waiting list for heart surgery. Local Charities attempt to send the most urgent cases abroad for their life saving sugeries, which are very expensive.
Sadly, most of these children could easily be helped with just one corrective surgery, but only if it is done in time...
Originally from England, founder Robert Hill, moved to Panama in 2001. His daughter, Fey, was born (2007) with a complex congenital heart defect -(read Fey's story here) unable to get the necessary treatment in Panama, the family moved to Northern Ireland in 2010. This brave little girl has undergone 3 open heart surgeries and was the motivation behind Robert's first fundraising challenge in May 2016.
"The reason for starting Mountains 4 hearts was quite simple. My little girl, Fey, has been fighting a life-threatening heart defect, from when she was born. Year in, year out she just cracks on, operacion after operacion, hospital after hospital.
Organisations like the British Heart Foundation are vital and are saving lives all the time, giving children like my daughter a fighting chance. As a parent you would literally like just to give your own heart, which I'm sure every parent can comprehend. Unfortunately, it isn't that simple. So I decided I will fight in another way and conquer mountains, trails and anything else that stands in the way, to help my daughter and others like her.
This is why we formed M4H's."
Robert Hill (founder)
Robert, a qualified Mountain Leader, founded his own outdoor company FALCON OUTDOORS, based in Downpatrick NI, and after successfully completing a 3 peaks challenge in 2016 to raise money for the British Heart Foundation, Robert was keen to undertake a bigger challenge and aim for a higher target. It wasn't difficult to find friends and family interested in participating, so, the idea for Mountains 4 Hearts was born.
The group aims to complete 2 - 3 challenges a year to raise funds for Children with CHD. Each Expedition is funded entirely by the volunteers and 100% of the donations go towards a chosen registered Heart Charity.
Fey was born on the 14th January 2007 in Panama - her Mum, Xenia, is from Boquete and her Dad, Robert, is a UK national who had been residing in Panama. Shortly after she was born doctors discovered she was suffering from univentricular heart disease - a complex heart defect. She underwent her first heart surgery in Panama City, however due to the type of heart defect she was born with, Fey's parents were told she would need further surgeries as she, and her heart, grew.
By mid 2008 she was in desperate need of a second surgery. In Panama the doctors were unable to treat her and the cost of the OP was about US$25,000. After months of contacting charities and heart organisations Fey was sent to Colombia with the help of the Panamanian First Lady's despatch and at only 18 months old went through her 2nd heart surgery.
Returning to Panama the family were unsure of their future, as Fey was unlikely to receive further funds for her subsequent operations. So, the family moved to England, Robert found work in Belfast, Northern Ireland and in October 2010, the family relocated there.
Little Fey has had 2 further surgeries since they moved to NI and has recovered well and leads a normal life. In 2016 Fey and her mum Xenia were awarded the British Heart Foundation's ' Heart Heroes' award.
Fortunately for Fey, she was entitled to live in the UK and the treatment she received there saved her life, sadly though, she cannot return to live in Panama. Fey's story highlights the problem faced by thousands of children worldwide that are unable to get the necessary treatment in their own countries.
WHAT IS CHD?
Congenital heart Defect or Disease (CHD) is a problem with the structure of the heart at birth and is the most common type of birth defect, affecting nearly 1,000,000 babies around the world each year.
There are many types of defect, ranging from a small hole in the heart to a severly deformed or missing part of the heart. Some are easily treated or need no treatment at all, however, for babies with complex defects the condition can be life threatening and may require immediate surgery. 1 in 4 children born with a CHD are born with a complex defect and require surgery in the first year of life. Most of these children continue to need medical treatment and special heart care throughout their lives.
Medical research has improved the lives of many of these children so that they can live longer and more active lives. But research into CHD is extremely underfunded, taking into account how common the problem is.
In developing countries the medical facilities are often lacking and children with a CHD are unable to receive the treatment or surgery they require. Little Fey Hill was born in Panama, with a complex heart defect - unable to get the necessary treatment in Panama her family had move to the UK where Fey has received her surgeries.
Heart surgery is not cheap and for most parents impossible to pay for privately, so they have to rely on charities to help pay for medical services in other countries.
Private donations and charities play an incredibly important part in helping these children - without donations they wouldn't receive the treatment they need.
A LOOK AT PAST EVENTS...
Ojos de Salado
4 members of the M4H team went to Chile to attempt a summit of Ojos del Salado, the World's highest volcano at 6893m. Although they didn't make it due to bad weather they still managed to raise UK£1110 for Northern Irish heart Charity Heartbeat NI