Hospital charity buys potentially life-saving breastfeeding equipment for city's congenital heart unit

A Leeds heart charity has been able to buy a raft of new hospital equipment to help make it easier for mums to provide potentially life-saving breast milk for babies with congenital heart disease.

Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 4:45 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 12:18 pm

Thanks to a generous £17k donation by the Morrisons Foundation, the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund has now been able to fund a vital breastfeeding project at Leeds Children's Hospital's congenital heart unit.

The funding will pay for breast pumps so mothers can express milk at the babies’ bedsides in the children’s cardiac ward as well as in the paediatric intensive care unit and in parental accommodation at the hospital.

The provision will also include privacy screens, foot stools, dedicated storage fridges, thermometers and special cushions - all to help make it more manageable for mothers of babies with congenital heart disease to breast feed in the hospital environment.

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Leeds Children's Hospital's Megan Emery and Emma Duffy with some of the existing equipment.

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For babies with certain cardiac conditions, breast milk is the only proven protection against developing a condition called NEC - a bowel inflammation that can lead to sepsis, bowel surgery and death.

And the numbers of cardiac babies needing breast milk for this specific reason is said to be on the rise, following new methods of surgery and updated research into the condition.

Alix Dunlop-Jones, children’s dietician for cardiology said: “We are incredibly grateful to the Morrisons Foundation for their terrific grant, which will improve the nutrition and clinical outcomes for a significant percentage of future babies with congenital heart disease.

Children’s dietician for cardiology Alix Dunlop-Jones

“We expect our breastfeeding initiative to reduce the length of hospital stay for mother and baby, and there will fewer complications from infections due to the health benefits of breast milk.”

Clinicians predict the project will benefit more than 3,000 babies and their mothers over the 10-year-lifespan of the equipment.

Sharon Milner, the CEO of CHSF said: “Because of the Morrisons Foundation, this breastfeeding initiative will benefit future infants with cardiac conditions in a number of ways, which align with our charity mission to support the heart, the mind, the family and the future.

“This is yet another project which demonstrates the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit as a world-class centre of excellence.

“We can’t thank the Morrisons Foundation enough for their generous support of this initiative.”

David Scott, Morrisons Foundation Trustee said: “I’m delighted that we’ve been able to support the Children’s Heart Surgery’s phenomenal work.

“The impact the charity has on families in the local area, as well as those travelling from across the country to receive the expert treatment the hospital offers, really is life-changing.

““The new facilities will make a huge difference for many years to come and I’m so proud that the Morrisons Foundation, together with CHSF has helped to make this happen.”

To find out more about the work of CHSF and donate, visit chsf.org.uk.

The CHSF has supported the congenital heart unit for over 30 years, since its formation in 1988.

It helps fund vital equipment for the unit as well as supporting patients and their families, from providing nearby accommodation to holistic and wellbeing supprot.

Last year, the Yorkshire Evening Post launched a Have a Heart campaign to help the Children's Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) reach its £1m target for donations.

Shortly after the coronavirus pandemic hit, CHSF was forced to issue an urgent plea for donations after losing a "significant portion" of its yearly income.

To donate to the charity, visit https://www.chsf.org.uk/donate/

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