Cononley mum's battle to save Leeds General Infirmary heart unit

Campaign: Lois Brown, who is fighting to save the heart unit, with daughter Amelie

Campaign: Lois Brown, who is fighting to save the heart unit, with daughter Amelie

First published in News

A mum fighting to save the children’s heart unit that saved her daughter’s life has given a speech to MPs in Westminster.

Lois Brown, whose three-year-old daughter Amelie was born with a heart defect, said her little girl would not have survived if the expert help available at Leeds General Infirmary was further away.

The unit is at risk of closure following an NHS review of children’s heart services, which identified concerns that expertise was being spread too thinly.

Four options for future provision are currently out for public consultation – only one of which includes the retention of a children’s heart unit in Leeds.

Lois, who is chairman of Cononley Parish Council, travelled to London last week as part of a delegation to give a speech to MPs before the review was debated in the House of Commons. She told MPs lives would be put at risk if the specialist facility were to close.

“If there hadn’t been a heart unit in Leeds, then Amelie wouldn’t have made it,” said Lois.

“When heart children get sick, they get sick very quickly. When Amelie was ten months old she stopped breathing.

“She was taken to Airedale Hospital and they had to get a consultant in a fast car from Leeds to stabilise her enough to transfer her to the heart unit. Amelie was crashing as she arrived in to Leeds. She only just made it. Any further and that would have been it.”

Amelie underwent open-heart surgery three times before she reached her first birthday. Lois and husband Julian, who also have a six year old son Toby, spent three and a half months living full-time at the hospital in Leeds while doctors saved their daughter’s life.

Amelie, who is now a happy, feisty toddler, attends appointments with a specialist every six months. She faces further heart surgery between four and six and, ultimately, a heart transplant in her mid-30s unless there are advances in medical science.

Lois, who lives in Cononley, said, if the unit in Leeds closed, families would have to travel to Newcastle or Leicester for treatment – even in an emergency situation. She has urged people to sign the “Save Children’s Cardiac Surgery at Leeds General” online petition by visiting thepetitionsite.com.

Skipton MP Julian Smith has also leant his support to the fight. He said: “I will continue to press the NHS and Ministers to listen to these worries before final decisions are taken.”

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