20/10/2013 Lifeline from Northern Ireland


20/10/2013

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Hello and welcome to a health-themed Lifeline here at Titanic Belfast,

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where I'll be visiting a major conference for people affected by multiple sclerosis.

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And we'll be getting a musical accompaniment from a choir

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whose singers have all been touched by cancer.

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# Sun and moon and stars of light

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# Sun and moon and stars of light. #

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But first, to the Premature Baby Unit at the Royal for our charity appeal from TinyLife.

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Every year more than 2,000 babies are born prematurely in Northern Ireland.

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These tiny babies may be small, but they've a huge fight on their hands.

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We look after babies right down to 23-24 weeks gestation.

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Those babies when they're born, they weigh about 500g.

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That's basically half a bag of sugar.

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Some of them during the course of their journey

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can develop problems which will affect them in the longer term.

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And, obviously, we try as much as possible to avoid that,

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but clearly in some cases that's not possible.

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The reasons for premature birth are sometimes unexplained,

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but they're often due to medical conditions affecting the mother.

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But the help and support doesn't stop when these infants are allowed to go home.

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25 years on from its early origins,

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TinyLife has developed a range of family services to meet the baby and parents' needs.

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Apart from funding pioneering medical research,

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TinyLife offers a hospital-to-home volunteer support programme.

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The girls were born at 32 weeks.

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And Poppy she weighed 3lb 12oz and Tilly weighed 4lb 3oz.

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And for the first three weeks of their life

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they were in the neo-natal unit in Craigavon Hospital.

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TinyLife, they were fantastic, they were able to supply me with a breast pump.

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The hospital was doing all the care for the babies

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and I felt I couldn't do anything, but with the help of TinyLife and the breast pump

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I could express milk and give them the milk that they needed.

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The services are first class. They're there when you need them.

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There's help which Kate has now

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where she can get her wee bits and pieces done through the day.

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I can't always be there, so they're there for you.

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TinyLife were able to match the family with a TinyLife volunteer

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who visits Catherine and William on a weekly basis,

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offering practical and emotional support.

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And there's help with therapeutic massage to allow the babies to relax and bond with Mum.

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But there's a constant need for volunteers to help with TinyLife's work.

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I would definitely recommend it 100%.

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It's very, very rewarding.

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You get a lot more out of it than what you give.

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'To me it's just a few hours of my time every week

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'and you get to meet new people. You definitely make a friend.'

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He's having a great wee sleep there.

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'Each year it costs a half a million pounds to deliver our services to families across Northern Ireland.

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'We receive a little bit of money from Government sources,

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'but primarily it's through the generosity of the public

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'who get involved in many of our fundraising events.'

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?10 could buy

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a much needed breast pump kit.

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?50 could support a volunteer to be

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in a home for two hours each week.

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And ?100 can deliver a parent-support group in a local community.

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More fish!

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This is TinyLife's new sensory room

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where babies are introduced to therapies to help their development,

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muscle tone, coordination, digestion and sleeping.

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Nature's wonderful, she really does get it right most of the time.

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Being born too early though is

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Being born too early though is tragic,

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because there are no other problems,

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it's just the baby is born and yet it isn't equipped for survival outside the mother's womb.

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But I'm glad to say with the help of the research of many people,

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including those associated with Tiny Life over the last 25 years,

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this isn't quite the problem that it was those decades ago.

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TinyLife's services are offered free of charge to families

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who've spent time in neo-natal care,

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so the charity relies heavily on the public's support.

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If you'd like to donate to TinyLife or volunteer for them,

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you'd be making a huge contribution to a baby's future.

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Thank you.

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And if you'd like to make a donation to TinyLife

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you can visit our website and click on the "Donate" button.

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Or send a cheque or postal order

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made out to TinyLife to:

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And if you'd like to find out more information about volunteering for TinyLife,

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you can e-mail them at:

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Or call the family support team on:

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Now here at Titanic Belfast,

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I'm at one of the biggest lifestyle conferences for people living with MS.

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And I'm joined now by the Chief Executive of the MS Society, Patricia Gordon.

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Patricia, tell us a little bit about the disease.

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Why is there a greater incidence of it here in Northern Ireland?

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We don't really know the exact cause,

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but we think it might be down to genetic and environmental factors.

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We do know that the further you live away from the equator

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the more likely you are to have MS.

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And you're spending some ?20 million on research at the moment.

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Are we any closer to a cure, do you think?

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I think it's some time off before a cure will be available,

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but what we're focusing on is increasing the range of treatments that are available for people.

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If you have relapsing or remitting MS there are a number of treatments

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and at the moment we're hopeful that there will be an additional four drugs available to people.

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Thanks, Patricia, for your time today.

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Now, I'm also joined by Catherine Doran,

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a wonderful example of someone living with MS.

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How does it impact on your life, Catherine, and the wider family?

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We didn't let it stop us having a family for a start.

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We've got two gorgeous daughters and I'm so glad I've done that.

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But my family definitely do help out more than perhaps they would for someone of my age group.

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My aunt and my mum both help out,

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my husband does his fair share around the house, but that's no bad thing either.

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And research is moving on at a pace.

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Do you feel it's moving quickly enough?

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Are you hopeful for new treatments or even a cure?

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The research is fantastic.

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In the four years I've been diagnosed it's moved so quickly.

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I would like to think that in my lifetime there'll be a cure.

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And I will always hope that's the case with research money there.

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There's fantastic work being done. I do believe that will happen.

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Thanks so much, Catherine, for joining us.

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Now, from a very busy Titanic Quarter

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let's take a look at our Community Noticeboard.

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And it's devoted today to the Sing for Life Choir,

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which is celebrating its first birthday.

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Made up of people affected by cancer

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the search is on for anyone who might like to join them.

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# For the beauty of each hour

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# Of the day and of the night

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# Hill and vale and tree and flower Hill and vale and tree and flower

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# Sun and moon and stars of light

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# Sun and moon and stars of light

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# Lord of all... #

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Some of the people in the choir

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are telling me it's improved their quality of life.

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One gentleman said he was a recluse

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and this has given him a whole new sense of living again.

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It's very friendly and you don't have to talk about yourself

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in detail if you don't want to,

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but people are free to talk about themselves.

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And it's just nice to be able to share if you want

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or just be around people.

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I have six-monthly scans

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and when I get my six-monthly scan and find that it's all clear,

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I tell people and everybody's really pleased for you.

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It's a great sort of experience. It really is good.

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To find out more about joining the choir contact:

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Or e-mail:

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# This our joyful hymn of praise. #

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Wow! Inspirational stuff.

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And you can, of course, hear more from the choir on our website.

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But for now that's it. Thanks for watching. Take care. Bye-bye.

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An appeal for volunteers and donations by the premature baby charity, Tiny Life. And there's a special performance by the inspirational 'Sing for Life' choir whose members have been affected by cancer.

Donations by crossed cheque or postal order to:

The Appeals Organiser c/o The Appeals Office BBC Broadcasting House Ormeau Avenue Belfast BT2 8HQ

Or donate online via www.bbc.co.uk/niappeals

Charity registration number is XR 75792/1.


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