Have a Heart: Brave Ruby's family backs YEP's bid to support Leeds heart surgery charity

The Varley family have paid tribute to the “incredible” care they have received from the unit and the heart surgery fund during their ten-year heart journey with daughter Ruby.

Monday, 3rd February 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 2:19 pm

Ruby, of Kippax, is currently recovering from her third life-saving surgery at the Leeds unit after she was born with a rare heart defect.

She was just three days old when specialists discovered she had a hole in her heart and a blocked artery.

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Ruby Varley, pictured with mum Natalie and brother Ethan. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Her first surgery was performed at four weeks old and a second when she was aged 16 months.

And just before Christmas, the unit’s surgeons operated once more on the now ten-year-old, to replace the pulmonary artery which she has outgrown.

Mum Natalie, 41, said: “It was difficult this time with her being older.

“She obviously had a new scar and lots of drains coming out, lots of wires everywhere. It was hard to see her struggle. Hard when she asked why I have let them do this to her. But she needed this surgery to prolong her life.”

Ruby Varley, 10, pictured during her most recent surgery at the congenital heart unit at LGI.

Natalie said the support provided by the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund has been invaluable.

“We didn’t have parental accommodation nine years ago. This time, we got the key while she was in ICU and they said ‘here’s the key, take it, have it for as long as she’s here’. It was incredible.

“We had a kitchen fully kitted out, even a Christmas tree. It was so nice.

“It helped because now Ruby’s older, she was asking for us a lot. When she was coming around in ICU, the staff rang us to say she’s asking for you. And we could get ready and go and be there in a minute. We didn’t have to factor in coming back and finding parking. We didn’t have that worry.”

Ruby Varley, 10, pictured during her most recent surgery at the congenital heart unit at LGI.

Through the charity, the Varley family have met others going through similar heart journeys in their local area, creating a support network for them all.

“We’ve all said the Heart Surgery Fund has just been a life-saver for us,” she said.

She urged people to back the YEP’s fundraising push for the charity and stressed that every penny pledged is money well spent.

“Until you are actually living it, you never truly appreciate what a charity like this does for families. It’s incredible. Children with poorly hearts can look so healthy but they do suffer a lot. It’s a traumatic experience for them and for families.

Ruby Varley, now 10, who has had three life-saving surgeries at LGI's congenital heart unit. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

“However big or small the donation is, it goes such a long way.”

To donate:

Visit chsf.org.uk/donate to give a one-off donation or to set up a regular, direct debit donation.

Or pay cheques to: Children’s Heart Surgery Fund at 3 Oxford Place, Leeds, LS1 3AX

The Yorkshire Evening Post has launched a campaign to help the Children's Heart Surgery Fund raise 1m in 2020.