Alpha-1 Represents Ireland at European Transplant Games
Best of luck to Transplant Team Ireland and Cavan native Stephen Smith representing Ireland at the European Transplant and Dialysis Games in Finland from July 10th - 17th. Stephen (front row, 2nd from right) has alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency and had a successful lung transplant in the Mater Hospital in Dublin in November 2013. He has become a passionate advocate for organ donation since his transplant. Stephen regularly visits schools and GAA clubs in Cavan speaking about the importance of carrying an organ donor card and of discussing the issue with your family. Stephen appeared on RTE TV in December of 2014 in a Science Squad special on Alpha-1 which can be viewed here.
The European Transplant and Dialysis Games involve over 500 athletes from 25 countries. Transplant Team Ireland is made up of athletes who have received lung, liver, kidney, and pancreas transplants. The main objective for team members is to embrace life and promote organ donation, some returning team members will be defending European titles. Athletes will compete in their respective age categories in the following events: badminton, tennis, cycling, darts, golf, petanque, swimming, table tennis, ten pin bowling, mini-marathon, and track and field. You can follow the team's exploits here.
For an organ donor card freetext the word DONOR to 50050 or visit http://www.ika.ie/card. It is also possible to download an organ donor card on smartphones by searching for "Donor Ecard".
Winners of the Lovin Our Lungs Movie Competition Announced
A top gong has gone to a five-strong dance troupe from the House of Swag Dance School, from Swords, Co. Dublin, for their winning entry in the Lovin’ Our Lungs Movie Awards. An initiative of the Irish Lung Health Alliance, a coalition of 17 charities, in partnership with Foróige, the awards sought to build awareness of the importance of lung health for a full and active life among teenagers by having them direct their own original 90-second movies. In particular, the aim was to highlight the importance of three steps in keeping lungs strong and healthy—by not smoking, by exercising for 30 minutes most days, and by eating a healthy diet. The initiative was supported by GSK
The winning mini-movie by House of Swag Dance School really caught the imagination of judges in bringing the Lovin’ our Lungs theme to life through its high energy fusion of fitness moves and dance grooves. The movie features an impressive array of acrobatics, breakdancing, and hip hop, set against a funky music soundtrack, and concluding with the salutary message “Take care of your lungs, or they won’t take care of you”. The winning entry is also being broadcast on RTÉ Two’s Two Tube while the winners will also get to take part in a ‘breathtaking’ adventure experience with Ecoadventure Ireland.
Nathan Brogan, speaking on behalf of the House of Swag Dance School, winners of the Lovin’ Our Lungs Movie Awards, accepting the award was very special:
“We never thought we’d have our own ‘Oscar’ moment where we would get to stand up in front of an audience to accept the Lovin’ Our Lungs statuette and thank everyone, especially our moms! We had so much fun shooting this movie and along the way learned so much about our lungs and why we need to show them the love. If we have helped make a convincing argument to other young people about swapping the sofa, fags and junk food for some groovy dance moves, then that would be cool.
For Dr Ross Morgan, Consultant Respiratory Physician and spokesperson for the Irish Lung Health Alliance, young people respond best to lung health messages, when they come from themselves:
“Lung disease is the most common health condition in young adults aged 18 to 24 years and research shows that almost 80 per cent of smokers start the habit before the age of 18 years. That’s why we created the Lovin’ Our Lungs Movie Awards to get young people thinking, talking and filming about lung health and how to get the most out of our lungs in a way that would grab the attention of their peers. We know that young people respond best to health messages when they come from themselves rather than being told by us adults, even if we know it’s true! I want to congratulate the five young people from the House of Swag Dance School for their really powerful and inspirational entry on why our lungs matter and would encourage every young person to check it out for themselves.”
To read more and to watch the winning entry see here.
Irish Alpha-1 Researchers Awarded Funding
The US Alpha-1 Foundation announced its 2016 grant awardees on Monday, May 16 during a reception at the American Thoracic Society (ATS) International Conference in San Francisco. The 14 grant recipients will receive a record total of $1.9 million for their projects. Among the award recipients were two Irish Alpha-1 researchers, Professor Gerry McElvaney and Dr. Emer Reeves, who are both based at the RCSI Smurfit Building in Beaumont Hospital.
Professor McElvaney received funding to study the risk of lung disease caused by a particular type of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) called SZ AATD. This will be a family based study looking at the risk for COPD in people who are born with 1 copy of the S and 1 copy of the Z variant. Dr. Reeves received funding to look at how platelets behave in people with AATD, and also explore how platelets interact with neutrophils, the important white blood cell which helps to fight off infections.
The Alpha-1 Foundation is committed to finding a cure for alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency and to improving the lives of people affected by Alpha-1 worldwide. The Alpha-1 Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 1995 by John Walsh, Sandy Lindsey and Susan Stanley, three individuals diagnosed with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1). To read more visit the US Alpha-1 Foundation website here.
At the same conference, the Irish Alpha One Foundation presented findings from the national AATD targeted detection programme. So far the national screening programme has detected over 500 people with the severe form of the condition (ZZ or SZ) and over 2,000 people who have a milder form of deficiency (MZ). A further group have been found to have rare variants (for example F, Mmalton and Null) which can also cause lung, liver, and skin problems. The conference was an excellent opportunity to meet others working in the field of AATD and share knowledge and experience.