03/05/16 – SMC sponsor Shine Balloon Race, starting on the 3rd May

Shine are launching a race on the 3rd May entitled Shunt Alert.


Shunts are vital to saving the lives of members of Shine. In order to keep our brains healthy they are encased by fluid. The fluid drains off naturally and is replaced by “new” fluid. However, in some cases the process fails. This condition is known as hydrocephalus. If not treated, this results in pressure on the brain and brain injury. A shunt is fitted to artificially carry out the process of draining our brain fluid, something most of us take for granted.

Shunts are reasonably inexpensive but since their invention in the early 1960s they have literally saved millions of lives. Most babies and children who developed hydrocephalus prior to this date would have died at an early age.

However, fitting a shunt is only the beginning of treatment and support. Every day Shine works to support people who have complications with their shunt. In some cases, where acute shunt failure occurs, there is only a short space of time to ensure that this is not fatal. Shine ensure that people know how to alert the correct specialist immediately, enabling infections to be treated or to perform the specialist surgery required to fit a new shunt. Shine also offer advice to parents on how to spot the signs in their child that a shunt may be malfunctioning.

Shine has 8500 members with hydrocephalus, all of whom are offered a Shine “Shunt Alert” card to keep about their person. The card provides essential information about Shine member should anything happen to them and can literally save their lives. Shine also produce a similar ‘shunt passport’ which can be used when travelling around Europe.

Benny Bear, Shine’s mascot, is a bear who himself has a ‘pretend’ shunt. Benny and a Shine worker visit schools with students that have a shunt fitted on a regular basis. This gives their classmates and teachers an insight into the function of a shunt and how they can support their friend with hydrocephalus.

Each year there are cases where a child’s shunt fails and help arrives too late. In these cases we are able to offer counselling  and support to their parents and families through the difficult process of coping with their loss.

By purchasing a balloon in the event, SMC will be assisting Shine in providing vital, and sometimes lifesaving, ongoing support to Shine members with hydrocephalus.