Your efforts have finally paid off – you’ve baked the cake, rallied your colleagues and sent in your sponsorship money to the British Heart Foundation (BHF). Ever wondered how those hard earned pounds are spent?

Helping teenagers face the challenge of living with heart disease

Lindsay-Kay Leaver, 30, is a Cardiac Adolescent and Transition Clinical Nurse Specialist at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London. She supports thousands of teenagers with heart conditions as they move from the very supportive environment of paediatric care into adult services where they need to take more responsibility for their own heart health and medical appointments.

Lindsay-Kay receives an annual education fund from the BHF which ensures she keeps up to date on developments in her profession. She also works closely with the Children’s and Young Peoples’ team at the BHF collaborating on projects and providing support at events for teenage heart patients.
Lindsay-Kay describes her working day:

“I’ve always enjoyed caring for people with heart conditions and I love meeting so many different characters every day. It’s a real privilege to get to know so many young people and to watch them develop into confident and competent young people. Great Ormond Street has a really positive view of Clinical Nurse Specialists so it’s a great place to work.

“My working day is very varied which is why I enjoy it so much. I might see a young person who has come for tests on their heart, support someone preparing for surgery or visit a young person on the ward after they’ve had their operation. We have a weekly teenage outpatient clinic where I see young people on their own, encouraging them to take more responsibility for their heart condition. Aside from keeping young people well, the emphasis is on gradually helping them to develop the skills they’ll need to manage their condition independently and for parents to gently move towards a less active and more supportive role.

“We all know that being a teenager is challenging enough, let alone living with a heart condition and always being that bit ‘different’ from your school friends. My role means I can support and advise teenagers as they grow up to make sure they get the treatment and care they need, and that their heart condition never holds them back.”


Community Resuscitation Training Officer Malcolm Ritchie and his team have been teaching thousands of Londoners life-saving skills over the past three years.
Malcolm and colleagues have been working on a BHF funded project which gives people living and working in the capital the ability to perform emergency life support skills such as Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) to someone who has collapsed - before professional help can arrive.

Malcolm, 35, and colleagues have trained 20,000 people either directly or by helping them pass on their skills to others so that more and more people in the capital can help in an emergency. Along with CPR, Londoners are taught other life-saving skills such as dealing with choking and serious bleeding and how to recognise the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

Based in Waterloo, the team are also responsible for getting defibrillators – a machine that delivers an electric shock to the heart - into more places in the capital so that, along with CPR, more lives can be saved. There are currently around 1,200 defibrillators in London at places such as shopping centres, tube stations and tourist attractions. Getting a debrillator to someone in an emergency can increase their chances of survival by up to 90%.

Another aspect to the team’s work has been helping to train the capital’s Community First Responders (CFRs) - ordinary people living in the community who are ‘on call’ to respond to an emergency within a two mile radius of their home. These volunteers provide emergency support - such as CPR - to someone before an ambulance arrives and are fifty per cent more likely to be the first person at the scene of an emergency.

John Joseph is one of the many people who’s been trained by Malcolm and now passes on his life-saving skills to others in the capital as well as volunteering as a CFR.  John, who’s on call several times a month, says: “Over the years I have attended seven or eight cardiac arrests and have been lucky enough to fully assist at two where the patient survived. Having the skills to help people in such need is vital and this all wouldn’t be possible without funding from the BHF – the difference the charity is making is incredible.”

Want to help the BHF continue its fight against heart disease? Signing up to one of our London 10K runs this summer is a great way to get fit and active while raising funds to continue the BHF’s life-saving research.

Visit bhf.orguk/londonruns