Warm-hearted Iris to walk 100 miles in tribute to mum’s heart failure battle

Date published: 01 March 2021

A caring schoolgirl from Oldham is walking 100 miles for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) in tribute to her mum who is living with a debilitating heart condition.

Iris Kearns, aged seven, has been carrying out her challenge since the start of the year and has already raised almost £2,000 towards the BHF’s life saving research into heart and circulatory diseases.

Iris was inspired to take on the challenge after mum, Barbara, was diagnosed with heart failure in May, 2019.

Barbara had been to see her GP after experiencing rapid abnormal heart rhythms.

She was later admitted to hospital, and after various tests, she was told that her heart was unable to pump blood around the body properly.

“I was talked through all the different stages of heart failure and was told that I was in the chronic stages,” said Barbara.

“I remember thinking - I have no idea what you’re talking about, and that was because I couldn’t believe it.

"They had no idea what had caused it because I had no previous illnesses or infections.

“I felt like I was a ticking time bomb.”

Barbara underwent a procedure which aims to control or correct certain types of abnormal heart rhythms.

However, several months later, Barbara’s erratic heart rate returned.

The 39-year-old said: “Sometimes it would last between eight to nine hours.

“There was no rhyme or reason for it.

"I would be sat on my sofa, relaxing, and my heart was running like I’d done marathons back to back.

“It had a huge impact on my life.

"I spent around five months in and out of hospital. I had this huge fear of not wanting to plan anything, as I just expected my heart rate to go mad again.”

Barbara underwent another procedure to try and correct her heart rate in January this year.

The mum-of-two – who is married to husband Daniel and also has a son, Patrick, aged four – has also been advised to shield due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This has meant that both Iris and Patrick have been unable to play outside with their friends.

After seeing her mum’s recovery first hand, Iris (below) decided she wanted to give back.

She set herself the challenge to walk 100km in 30 days, which she completed earlier this month with dad Daniel, to raise funds for the BHF.

However, due to the reaction she received, Iris has now upped her target – and aims to complete 100 miles in total.

“Iris has really missed going outside and to her, this challenge is a form of escape,” said Barbara.

“When I got the call from the hospital in January, I was absolutely elated – I broke down in tears.

"She saw my reaction and realised how important it was to me.

“Iris is really caring and if she can do anything to help anyone else, then she will.

"She says she doesn’t do her fundraising just to make mummy better, but to hopefully make other people who have heart conditions better too.”

In Greater Manchester alone, around 310,000 people are living with heart and circulatory diseases – and, shockingly, every 80 minutes, someone in the metropolitan county dies from one of these conditions.

The BHF funds research into all heart and circulatory diseases, including heart failure, stroke and vascular dementia, and their risk factors such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

However, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the BHF’s investment in new research has fallen by around £50 million this year.

Michelle Bailey, Area Fundraising Manager at the BHF, said: “We are so grateful to Iris for taking on this very personal challenge to help raise funds for the BHF’s ground-breaking research.

“We can only fund research to save and improve lives because of the generous donations of our supporters like Kayleigh.

"In addition to the devastating health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the financial impact has meant our funding for new research has halved this year alone, so the support of the public has simply never been more needed.”

To donate to Iris’ fundraiser, please click here

Anyone interested in fundraising for the BHF can contact Michelle Bailey, BHF’s Area Fundraising Manager, by emailing: baileymic@bhf.org.uk

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