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World Heart Day 2015 sees the official launch of Take Heart

On World Heart Day 2015, 29 September, in New York, the official trailer for Take Heart was showcased at the UN. The project is proudly supported by the Aspen Foundation, the charitable organisation set up by the company's founders, Glenn Keys, Amelda Keys and Dr Andrew Walker. The Aspen Foundation's mission is to significantly reduce or eradicate illnesses in the Australian community.

A big subject

Take Heart is a multi-platform advocacy initiative designed to lift the lid on Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD), an entirely preventable disease that threatens the lives of 2% of all Indigenous Australians (Dr Bo Remenyi, Menzies School for Health Research).

Today, thousands of Indigenous Australian children are at risk of contracting Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) from a common sore throat (Strep Throat) or possibly from the transmission of Strep A bacterium through infectious skin sore (Scabies). If these vulnerable children are not quickly identified as being symptomatic (with fever or joint pain) and treated with penicillin, their body’s autoimmune response may start mistakenly attacking their heart valves in an attempt to rid the body of its fever. Repeated exposure to ARF leads to life-threatening Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) which ends with expensive and traumatic open heart surgery as well as a dramatically increased risk of permanent disability, stroke, heart failure and premature death.

A powerful story

Take Heart reveals the incredible true-life stories of young people living with RHD, their families and health workers caring for them. The stakes are high for these kids, RHD is life-threatening and they must comply to strict medication schedules to stay alive. Regular health checks, restricted activities and frequent hospital admissions are commonplace and they rely on the support of their family, friends and community health workers to keep them on track. This is not easy as most young people living with RHD are from poor, disadvantaged and often remote communities. Perhaps this situation is made worse knowing that RHD is 100% preventable.

A first-hand account

Take Heart follows the stories of four Indigenous Australian youngsters over two years. Their voices are supported by their Hungarian-Australian doctor, Darwin-based paediatric cardiologist Dr Bo Remenyi as well as Maori and Pacific Island New Zealand patients and Dr Lance O’Sullivan (2014 New Zealander of the Year). Told through the eyes of Liddywoo (17), Carlissa (16),Trenton (8), Brooklyn (7),Taame (14) and Melesiu (17), Take Heart seeks to get to the heart of the complex social, environmental and health factors placing these young Australasians at such high risk.

The one-hour feature film is intended for release on TV in Australia on SBS, NITV, Rural Health Channel and/ or ICTV, in New Zealand on one of the NZTV stations and/ or Māori TV. It may also be picked up by Al Jazeera Documentary Channel for broadcast through its global network. The feature film will also be screened publicly via hosted screenings, film festivals, conferences and educational settings. The producers have already received over one hundred pledges to host screenings.

For more information about the Take Heart project visit the website by clicking here.