In light of National Heart Month, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to showcase the work that a member of our audit and accounts team, Karan Panesar, does within the cardiac community. Below, Karan shares an insight into his time volunteering with the Evelina Children’s Heart Organisation: 

ECHO supports families affected by children’s heart conditions who have been treated within the Guy’s and St Thomas’s Trust and their network of specialist local hospitals. Their aim is to connect the children’s heart community by bringing together young people with heart conditions, their families and medical professionals through shared experience and common understanding. Families are supported from the point of diagnosis, throughout every stage of their journey including any treatment and care pathway or bereavement. 

Although I was diagnosed with CHD at birth, it wasn’t until I had my first open heart surgery at the age of 11 when I was introduced to ECHO. As a youth ambassador, I now draw upon my personal experience as a patient to mentor young people aged 11-18 on how to navigate life with a complex heart condition. I specialise in supporting the transitional period between paediatric care and adult services. Additionally, I work as part of a wider team to help organise charitable events focused on reducing isolation, developing confidence, and improving the social skills of those affected. 

Most recently, I was involved in the co-creation of the ‘Heartificial Intelligence’ installation at the Science Gallery London in collaboration with KCL which was shortlisted for one of the inaugural King’s Engaged Researchers Awards last month. 

Unfortunately, ECHO doesn’t receive any government funding from the NHS and therefore relies on donations and sponsorship to help with the ongoing cost of supporting heart families. If you’d like to know more about the charity or how to get involved, please feel free to get in touch with me or simply visit the link below: 

ECHO – Evelina Children’s Heart Organisation (echo-uk.org) 

Congenital heart disease is the most common birth defect affecting 1 in 99 children born in the UK. 

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