Have a Heart: The YEP launches bid to help Leeds' Children's Heart Surgery Fund raise £1m this year

It’s a cause close to all our hearts and today the YEP is calling on people across the city to get behind the charity which keeps the life-saving children’s heart unit beating in Leeds.

Monday, 3rd February 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 2:18 pm

The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) provides vital funding to support the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit, at LGI, in becoming a world class centre of excellence for children and adults with congenital heart disease (CHD) .

This year, as the charity sets itself the impressive fundraising target of £1m, the YEP is issuing a clarion call to Leeds residents to Have A Heart and help back its bid.

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Sharon Milner, CEO of the Children's Heart Surgery Fund

YEP editor Laura Collins said: “Over the years many, many families -not only from Leeds but across Yorkshire and beyond - have relied on the lifeline that is the Children’s Heart Surgery Unit.

“They have spent some of their darkest days clinging to hope with the support of the fantastic team around them as their children fight for survival.

“And it is thanks to that team’s skill and dedication that hundreds of children have been given that second chance at life.

“These families know all too well the difference the unit has and continues to make as well as the city of Leeds which really does have a special place in its heart for the unit and the team who are at the very heartbeat of its operation.

The work in numbers of the Congenital Heart Unit at LGI

“So now is the time to say thank you - especially in the run-up to Wear Red Day. Let’s come up with a million reasons to express our gratitude and give back to the unit which has saved so many lives over the years.”

Leeds-based CHSF has been helping to fund care and treatment for congenital heart disease patients and their families across the region for over three decades.

During that time it has raised over £7m - stepping in to fill gaps in funding which the under-pressure NHS simply cannot meet.

The charity has helped the unit by footing bills for life-saving medical equipment, parent accommodation, vital ward resources, staff training, scientific research and new clinical roles.

The 'baby pod' which the Children's Heart Surgery Fund hopes to be able to buy from donations pledged this year.

All of this has helped support a staggering number of babies, children and adults living with congenital heart disease each year – 22,500 heart patients passed through the Unit in the latest annual count.

And now more than ever, the charity needs your support.

More and more people born with the most complex congenital heart disease will survive into adulthood, having benefited from the expertise of the unit’s paediatric staff.

The YEP launches 'Have a Heart' campaign to help raise 1m for the Children's Heart Surgery Fund in Leeds.

Today’s team is ten times the size of the original unit which was first set up in the 1980s.

Sharon Milner, CEO of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, said: “The general prognosis for CHD patients has greatly improved since CHSF started in 1988, and now there are more adults living with the disease than children.

“However the statistics remain the same, and almost one in 100 newborn babies enter the world with congenital heart disease.

“Because of the overwhelming kindness and passion of local supporters we have managed to make an incredible difference to the lives of heart patients and their families for over 30 years.

“In order to ensure the development and sustainability of the unit, we have drawn up ambitious plans to give life-saving funds in vital new areas while continuing to deliver the medical equipment, parent accommodation and ward facilities which families rely on.

“Please help us reach our goals to deliver the best possible care to heart patients of all ages in our region.”

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

This year, the charity has set out a vision to focus on extra support for families including more help at home, liaison with schools, support packs with essential items for families who need to stay at hospital for long periods, activities and care for siblings – such as the summer activity camp in 2019 - and a dedicated family support officer.

CHSF will continue to fund state-of-the-art equipment including setting its sights on a revolutionary Baby MRI Incubator.

The £172,500 ‘baby pod’ incubator is ground-breaking as it would enable clinicians to perform MRI scans on babies aged up to six months without the need for general anaesthetic, which puts their lives at risk.

It would be the first pod of its kind in the UK for babies with congenital heart disease and MRI imaging.

This year CHSF is also increasing funding for research activity into new thinking around congenital heart defects and related conditions to forge fresh paths towards prevention and treatment.

Mike Richards, clinical director at Leeds Children’s Hospital, said: “Children’s Heart Surgery Fund has been an incredible supporter of our Congenital Heart Unit for over thirty years, benefitting a great many young patients from Leeds and the wider region who have come through this vital service.

“It’s absolutely fantastic that the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Have a Heart campaign is putting the spotlight on Children’s Heart Surgery Fund this year. With the support of charitable donations, we can bring about our vision of being a globally recognised leading provider of healthcare for children and young people.”

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

This is what donations could buy:

£10 - a teddy and a medal are given to each child after surgery

£30 - a birthday present for a long-term patient on the ward

£100 - one day’s attendance at a conference for a clinical staff member

£300 - an INR home-testing kit for a patient, which means they can test their blood levels at home without missing school

£650 - a trolley for some of the vital clinical equipment needed at the bedside

£35,000 - the annual upkeep of Eckersley House, the family accommodation in Leeds which keeps parents and siblings near to patients during surgery

£58,000 - An ECHO machine