Belfast GAA Club Receives Lifesaving Defibrillator in Memory of its Late Inventor

A local GAA club has received a lifesaving defibrillator device in memory of the late Professor John Anderson, who was responsible for developing the world’s first portable defibrillator in Belfast.donate_inventor

To mark the first anniversary of Professor Anderson’s death and to commemorate his work, local companies HeartSine Technologies and Intelesens have donated the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to Bredagh Gaelic Athletic Club (GAC).

Prior to his death in April 2012, Professor Anderson had served as Chief Technology Officer at two leading Belfast based companies, Intelesens and HeartSine Technologies – the only manufacturer of defibrillators in the UK and Ireland.

The technology developed by Professor Anderson is still used in defibrillators today, including those manufactured in Belfast by HeartSine, which are used in over 40 countries across the world and deployed on board Air Force One, in the White House and in Stormont Parliament Buildings.

Michael Caulfield, Chief Executive Officer of Intelesens, which manufactures wireless vital signs monitors and supplies high-efficiency electrodes which form an essential component of all of HeartSine defibrillators, said:

“Professor Anderson’s mission in life was to save lives. Having provided us with the knowledge and technology to do so, that is exactly what we wish to do with this donation to Bredagh GAC.

“In light of research suggesting that athletes may be more prone to Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) than other individuals, it is vital that GAA teams, and indeed other sports clubs, are prepared for the worst in order to save the life of a teammate, coach or spectator.

“A keen sportsman himself, Professor Anderson shared our concern over this issue and especially the number of SCA related deaths among young athletes. Having grown up in Castlereagh, just streets away from Bredagh GAC on the Ravenhill Road, we felt the donation of the unit to the club was a very fitting gesture on the first anniversary of his death.”

Combined with the use of CPR, defibrillators can increase SCA survival rates to over 70%. Survival rates are less than 5% with just CPR alone.

Joy Taggart, Sales Support & Marketing Manager of HeartSine Technologies, which was founded by Professor Anderson, said:

“Not a lot of people know that Belfast is actually the birthplace of the portable defibrillator, which can diagnose and treat life threatening heart problems.

“Working at the Royal Victoria Hospital in the 1960s, in a team brought together by clinician Dr. Frank Pantridge, Professor Anderson led the work to develop technology that wouldn’t restrict the use of defibrillators to hospitals.

“Professor Anderson continued his work to make defibrillators more portable and easier to use. Modern AEDs now talk responders through the potentially lifesaving process step by step, assisting the patient until professional medical assistance arrives meaning they can literally be used by anyone at any time.

“High profile cases such as that of Bolton Wanderers footballer Fabrice Muamba have helped to highlight how, quick and easy, access to defibrillators can actually save lives.

“This ease and accessibility is crucial considering the majority of SCA cases will happen outside of a healthcare setting.”

The device was presented to Conor Francis of Bredagh GAC by Johnny Anderson, Engineering Manager at HeartSine and son of the late Professor Anderson, who said:

“It was an honour to represent my late father, a founder and Chief Technology Officer of both Intelesens and HeartSine at this presentation of vital life-saving equipment to one of our local athletic clubs.

“I hope the device will not have to be used but that it brings a sense of security to the club and local community.”

Aidan McKegney, Club Chairman at Bredagh GAC, said of the donation:

“We currently have over 1000 members, making us one of the largest GAA clubs in Co. Down. This includes men and women of all ages, any of whom could experience SCA at any moment if underlying heart health problems had not been previously detected or diagnosed.

“The chances of surviving a SCA decrease by 10% for every minute a defibrillation ‘shock’ is delayed. Having a defibrillator on site gives me peace of mind that all our coaches, referees, players and spectators are protected with an increased chance of survival should disaster strike.

“I would like to thank Intelesens and HeartSine for the kind donation of the device in commemoration of the man who we must all thank for the development of this lifesaving technology, Professor John Anderson.”

For more information about arranging the presence of an AED in your place of work, shared organisation or community, please visit