Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting CHNEWS to 80360, or email
Parents to fight on after heart unit blow
11:10am Thursday 12th July 2012 in News
Parents of children with heart defects have vowed to fight on after news of the closure of the special unit at Leeds General Infirmary.
At least three local families will have to travel as far as Newcastle for their children to get surgery after the dramatic changes which have seen the axing of three heart surgery units nationwide.
Sally Boocock, whose three-year-old daughter Ruby Brice has a multiple congenital heart defect and underwent open heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary, has been among campaigners to save the unit.
Ruby, a twin - her sister Daisy is healthy - will need heart surgery throughout her childhood in order to extend her life expectancy.
Her mum, who lives in Cracoe, said: “We have lost our battle, but we have not lost the war.
“Our fight goes on. Please help Ruby and all the children who have been wronged by this flawed process. This decision is so wrong. Leeds has been sacrificed so Newcastle can stay open.”
It was a double blow because her daughter had now been diagnosed with liver and kidney problems which could have been dealt with at Leeds and not Newcastle which was not a children’s hospital.
“Sharon Cheng, the director of the children’s heart surgery unit at Leeds, has vowed to fight on and I must do the same. We need to make the safe and sustainable committee aware that we will not just go away with a wrong and unjustified decision,” said Sally.
The news has also left 19-year-old Hollie Pearson, of Willow Way, Skipton, the mother of two boys with serious heart defects, shocked and upset.
Her youngest, six month-old George Hall has an underveloped left side to his heart and has already had surgery at Leeds. His two-year-old brother, Harvey, was born with a heart defect which impacts on the efficiency of the organ and the family expects he too will need treatment in future.
“The closure will have a big impact especially because of the travelling we’ll have to do and we don’t drive. We can be in Leeds very quickly but to get to Newcastle in time for any check-ups at 9am, we’ll have to stay somewhere overnight.
“At Leeds there’s a special place for families to stay which we have used,” said Hollie, a former pupil of Aireville School, Skipton, who believes the new pressures on her family will spoil her chances of training as a children’s nurse.
Other campaigners include Cononley Parish Council chairman Lois Brown and her husband, Julian.
Their four-year-old daughter, Amelie, suffers from a congenital heart defect called Tricuspid Atres and had open heart surgery three times before her first birthday.
Lois addressed MPs before the health review was debated in the House of Commons. She told them that 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. He 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.”
Mrs Cheng said this week: “Clinical logic has not been taken into consideration. They have ignored co-location. They have ignored patient choice.
“We will now appeal to the health minister as he assured us a decision would be made on clinical logic. This has not happened.”