New 'trail-blazing' machine will help improve outcomes of poorly babies at Leeds' congenital heart unit

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A new, ‘trail-blazing’ piece of life-saving equipment will be used to treat poorly babies in Leeds thanks to a generous donation to the charity which supports the city’s congenital heart unit.

Lloyds Community Fund’s donation of £5,000 has helped the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) buy a ‘’radiofrequency puncture generator’ for the unit at Leeds Children’s Hospital.

The new kit means clinicians can take tiny tissue punctures from babies’ hearts using radiofrequency energy, which causes minimal surrounding damage.

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It is thought the machine will be used around 15-30 times a year for this purpose in emergency procedures on neonatal babies - improving the treatment and outcomes of hundreds of babies over the coming years.

Children's Heart Surgery Fund CEO Sharon Milner. Picture Tony JohnsonChildren's Heart Surgery Fund CEO Sharon Milner. Picture Tony Johnson
Children's Heart Surgery Fund CEO Sharon Milner. Picture Tony Johnson
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But its multiple uses will also allow it to be used for different treatments on patients of all ages.

Dr Jamie Bentham, consultant paediatric cardiologist, said the puncture generator will be a “great asset” to the unit.

“We will use it during keyhole surgery to make a 0.3mm hole in a baby’s blocked heart valve, allowing us to then cross the valve and open it with a balloon.

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“I believe that it will complement the state-of-the-art equipment we currently use in patient treatment and help make a significant difference to the quality of care and outcomes we can provide for young patients with serious heart defects.”

Catherine Rutter, Lloyds Banking Group’s ambassador for Yorkshire and The Humber said the money was raised through their ‘community fund’, where employees apply for funding for causes they care about.

This year, £113,000 was shared among 29 organisations across the region, including the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund in Leeds.

She said: “I’m extremely pleased that the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund will benefit from the funding.

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“Supporting smaller causes in this way means that it will have a positive impact, not only on the organisation but also the communities they serve.”

Sharon Milner, CEO of CHSF, said: “We are very grateful to Lloyds Community Fund for their amazing donation, which has enabled us to purchase this trail-blazing machine for the hybrid children’s theatre.

“Life-saving equipment like this plays an essential part in maintaining the Leeds congenital heart unit’s status as a world class centre of excellence.”

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

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

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

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