Thousands get behind heart unit

Mary Dennison with her son Jack who had major heart surgery at LGI which could close
Mary Dennison with her son Jack who had major heart surgery at LGI which could close

A PETITION set up to keep a children’s heart surgery unit in Leeds has passed 100,000 signatures just a month after it was launched.

The online and paper petitions are part of the ‘S.O.S.: Save Our Surgery’ campaign, which is being run by the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF), the charity which supports the Leeds General Infirmary-based unit.

The campaign aims to stop a review of children’s heart surgery services in England leading to the closure of the Yorkshire unit, which would force families to take their children to centres in Newcastle or Liverpool for surgery.

Rastrick mum, Mary Dennison, is one of several parents campaigning to keep open the unit which saved her son’s life. Jack was born with tetralogy of fallot and was rushed to LGI for emergency heart surgery. But without this unit Mary said it could have been a completely different outcome.

The CHSF, which is hoping “parent power” will force the Government into a re-think, is co-ordinating the campaign on behalf of parents across the region. The charity is organising a series of public meetings and street protests, as well as an online campaign through Facebook, YouTube and the CHSF website.

Sharon Cheng, Director of the CHSF, said: “The fact that 100,000 people have already signed the petition shows the strength of feeling across the region.

“But we need many more people to sign the petition and show their support for this vital part of our health service provision. It is a key way for Yorkshire people to get their message across to this Government that the Leeds unit simply cannot be allowed to close.

“If it does close, families will be forced to take their children hundreds of miles for surgery, and in emergency situations that is bound to put children’s lives at risk.”

The petition is available online, via the CHSF website (www.chsf.org.uk) along with information about the campaign, and a paper copy is available to sign at the Brighouse Echo office in West Park Street, Brighouse, between Monday and Wednesday.