Fight is on to save tots’ heart unit

CONCERNED: MP Michael Dugher.
CONCERNED: MP Michael Dugher.
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AN MP is fronting a fight to keep a “life-saving” heart surgery unit for youngsters from closure.

And Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher wants parents to contact him with their case histories of how the unit – at Leeds General Infirmary – has saved their tots.

SAVED: Baby Taletha.

SAVED: Baby Taletha.

One such case is that of Taletha Bell – recently highlighted in the Times.

The Darfield tot underwent a NINE-HOUR operation at Leeds, after being born with a critical heart condition, and her mum Angela and aunt Angela Ives are campaigning to keep open the facility – in Ward 10 of the LGI.

Angela said: “I have complete trust in the team at Leeds. I will be eternally grateful to the surgeons who kept Taletha alive and do not want to lose this unit”.

And it was a Leeds heart specialist who saved Rawmarsh mum Kerry Uttley’s baby Carenza – born with severe, unidentified heart defects.

At two weeks old, she effectively died and had to be resuscitated, but remained very ill until the visiting specialist found two holes in her heart.

Once she was well enough, she was treated at Leeds, and continues to be checked there every month.

Within the next year she will need major heart surgery, and it is the Leeds unit that her family know and trust. They have fundraised for Ward 10 since Carenza was first treated there.

Kerry said: “Lives will be lost if Ward 10 goes. That’s a definite. Ill kids in Yorkshire will die and we can’t let this happen”.

Ward 10’s future is part of a consultation by the NHS – but only one of four options on offer, will see it continue to operate.

It is within easy reach for nearly 14 million people within two hours travel time.

Each year about 280 kids undergo open-heart surgery there, and a further 350 have operations including the fitting of pacemakers, valve replacements and the closure of holes in the heart.

Mr Dugher said: “The excellent unit in Leeds serves more than 5.5 million people across the region. I am extremely concerned and believe there is a compelling case for retaining the valued service”.

The MP has written to the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, calling on the Government to retain the unit, and he is planning to make a detailed submission to the ongoing four month consultation.

The hospital is one of only two in the city to offer complete care to patients with heart problems, from foetus to adult.

A public meeting about the Leeds unit takes place at the Earl of Doncaster Hotel, in Doncaster, on April 30.