First look: Revolutionary Leeds children’s heart surgery theatre taking shape on anniversary of appeal

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One year ago today, a charity set out their vision to build a state-of-the-art operating theatre for children in Leeds.

The new theatre, at Leeds Children’s Hospital, could cut waiting times, allow surgeons and cardiologists to undertake less invasive procedures and mean babies and children recover faster.

And 12 months ago, Leeds General Infirmary-based Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) launched the Keeping The Beat appeal – with a target of raising £500,000 by September 2018 to make the revolutionary plans a reality.

Today the Yorkshire Evening Post can reveal an astonishing £320,000 has already been raised towards the funding –and organisers behind the appeal have praised the generosity of the people of Leeds and Yorkshire on its one-year anniversary.

Sharon Coyle, chief executive of CHSF, said: “The people of Yorkshire have yet again showed their enthusiasm and generosity to help us reach this fantastic amount on the anniversary of the campaign launch. The new theatre will make a tremendous difference to both new and established congenital heart disease patients in the region.

“We look forward to this state-of the-art facility opening in 2018.”

The first images of what the theatre will look like in 2018 have also been released.

They include an architect’s impression of the outside of the colourful, cube-like structure and a first glance at equipment inside the theatre, which will be provided by Philips.

The theatre will ensure the Children’s Heart Surgery Unit meets new clinical standards set by NHS England, which were put in place after a national review of care.

In addition to open heart surgery, the new theatre will be used for delivering all minimally invasive heart procedures by cardiac catheter on babies and children.

It follows years of campaigning to keep the Leeds Children’s Hospital unit open, after it was threatened by a controversial shake-up of services in 2012.

A special donation tree mural has now been installed outside the children’s heart ward to celebrate the contribution of donors to the appeal.

Appeal supporter Emma Brook is the latest addition the donation tree mural, after being inspired to fundraise following her son’s battle with heart problems.

Her son Alfie, now seven, has four different heart conditions and effectively only has half of a normal heart.

The brave youngster, from Batley, has so far undergone six hospital procedures and also suffered a stroke. But inspired by Alfie’s battle, his mum has since organised and managed a series of fundraising activities on behalf of CHSF. CHSF have helped my family so much at the hardest of times, we’re forever grateful,” she told the YEP.

“I really admire how CHSF are constantly trying to make things better for heart patients. The best example of this is the new heart theatre being funded through Keeping The Beat.” Her fundraising events for the charity include race nights, bag packs, a fun day, cake sale and a charity skydive to celebrate the appeal’s launch anniversary.

The LGI unit was earmarked for closure as part of the review into services in 2012.

But, after a Yorkshire-wide campaign to retain the service, a legal challenge against the shake-up was launched.

And in 2013, the High Court in London quashed the closure decision.

The Keeping The Beat appeal is still in need of donations to reach its £500,000 target by September 2018 so it can officially open the doors of the new theatre to children.

To donate, text BEAT02 £10 to 70070 or drop in donations in person to CHSF’s office, on B Floor, Brotherton Wing at the LGI.

Donations for the appeal can also be made online at www.chsf.org.uk/donate.

Daniel Rajkumar

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