Little girl with heart condition says a big thank you to amazing NHS staff in Leeds

A LITTLE girl who has battled a heart condition since birth is saying a huge thank you to the Leeds hospital ward, which continues to save her life.

Sunday, 22nd December 2019, 11:45 am

Five-year-old Bella Rodgers, who has spent lots of time at Leeds Congenital Heart Unit, is awaiting further surgery next year, which is expected to prolong and give her a better quality of life.

Now Bella, who has just celebrated her fifth birthday and her family, are backing the Hearts for Life Campaign, to ensure other babies and children like her, have the best chance of survival.

The Rodgers family feature in the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund latest campaign video which stars Bella’s parents Rebecca and Steve and her brothers Riley, 10 and Harley, six.

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Bella Rodgers, with her mum Rebecca.

They also want people to remember the young heart patients who are spending Christmas recovering on the heart wards in Leeds.

Mum of three Rebecca, 30, said: “Bella was born in December 2014 and had her first open heart surgery at just five days old.

“I remember that time like it was yesterday and every day felt like a week, but the staff made Christmas a joyous experience, despite what was happening.

“She has just celebrated her fifth birthday, and now four surgeries later, we are forever grateful to every single person involved in her care. The NHS staff are simply amazing, they keep her alive.

Little Bella, after her surgery, as a baby.

“Bella does struggle to keep up at school as life is busy so we have to keep an eye on her as she can do too much.

“We are getting ready for surgery which will be sometime next year. In future, we hope that a heart transplant may be possible.”

Bella was diagnosed with hypoplastic right heart syndrome (HRHS), which means she has no right ventricle. Her heart condition was diagnosed when Rebecca was 20 weeks pregnant.

The Rodgers family have been active supporters of CHSF ever since Bella was born, raising thousands of pounds over the years, and this year they have collected 400 selection boxes for their Christmas party.

Bella Rodgers, as a baby.

Rebecca added: “We have made some of the best memories thanks to CHSF. We learnt that the best way to deal with anything that was thrown our way was to find a positive. That’s why we decided to put our energy into providing treats for young patients and their families.”

CHSF are wholly public-funded, and the annual Christmas party is free for patients recently treated and their families, thanks to donations from supporters across the region.

Funds mainly provide vital resources for patients and families including life-support machines and medical kit which saves lives every day, the parent accommodation which Rebecca stayed in while Bella was being treated and distraction equipment like TVs and toys on the wards.

Around 22,000 patients of all ages with congenital heart disease pass through the Leeds Heart Unit every year, says CHSF chief executive Sharon Milner.

Bella Rodgers, with the pile of presents at the Childrens Heart Surgery Fund party, for children at Leeds Congenital heart ward

She said: “Twelve babies are diagnosed with congenital heart disease every day in the UK. As scientific understanding increases, so does the number of patients living with coronary heart disease.

“Our plans for the future are ambitious and include comprehensive care for affected families, as well as continuing to provide the very best care for poorly patients like Bella.”

“Please help us support the Hearts for Life campaign into 2020 and beyond.”

More details about the Hearts for Life Christmas campaign set up by Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) at Hearts for Life