Seacroft toddler who had heart surgery at just eight-days-old inspired Leeds company to raise thousands

The family of a toddler from Seacroft who underwent life saving heart surgery in Leeds at just eight-days-old are urging people get behind Wear Red Day to raise money for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund.

Saturday, 8th February 2020, 6:00 am

Imogen Honeybourne, now three, was born with a congenital heart disease called transposition of the great arteries in 2017.

The disease meant her major arteries were the wrong way round and oxygenated blood wasn't going to her lungs.

She was only able to breathe because she had three holes in her heart, meaning a small amount of oxygen was able to get through.

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Three-year-old ImogenHoneybourne has heart surgery when she was just eight days old. Photo provided by family.

Her dad Danny, 35, said: "Imogen was born in March and everything seemed fine at first. The following day she was having a check over and doctors realised she was breathing differently and her oxygen wasn’t quite flowing.

“She was rushed into intensive care and they discovered that she had a condition called trans position of great arteries.

“It was absolutely heartbreaking.

“We went from the elation of our beautiful baby girl being born to the worst thing in the world happening.”

ImogenHoneybourne was just eight-days-old when she had heart surgery. Photo provided by family.

The father-of-three added: "She had open heart surgery when she was eight days old and was in intensive care for a few days before moving onto the high dependency ward.

“We had to be quite delicate with her as the surgeons had to break her sternum but other than that she came out of the surgery really well - she was home within days.

“The hospital staff were absolutely amazing.

"They not only provided the comfort of knowing Imogen was constantly looked after but they also cared for us as scared parents, offering advice and being a shoulder to cry on."

Three-year-old ImogenHoneybourne pictured with her dad Danny. Photo provided by family.

Danny and his wife Natasha, who are also parents to Charlotte, 14, and Connor, 8, were able to stay near the hospital due to fundraising from the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund.

The charity has been funding Eckersley House, an accommodation for parents of seriously ill children just minutes from Leeds Children's Hospital, for several years.

Danny said this was invaluable for his family as Natasha stayed with Imogen 24/7 while she was sick.

He said: "It was the charity that raised the money for a space for families to stay which meant my wife could stay with Imogen 24/7 while I tried to keep a sense of normality for our two older children.

The Yorkshire Evening Post 'Have a Heart' campaign.

“The Leeds Children’s Hospital is the best in Yorkshire and you have families coming from all over the country to be looked after.

"The accommodation is a godsend which allows them to be close to their children in such a scary time.

“The fundraising that the charity does provides so much for not only families who need it now but any future children who will need care.

“They pay for training and new technologies that literally save lives."

The company that Danny works for as a seasonal sales team leader, Northgate Lighting, has taken part in Wear Red Day for several years.

The Leeds based lighting company has raised thousands for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund after being inspired by Imogen's story.

Catriona Zalesinski, senior marketing manager at Northgate Lighting said: “It was Danny that inspired us to get behind the Children's Heart Fund Charity. Danny has been a key member of our sales team for years and having that personal connection to the charity has been really important.

“The way Danny tells the story of what happened is so eloquent. It really gives an insight into the experience they had as a family and it is hard not to be moved by it.

“The reaction has been really positive. We held some big events last year and lots of people attended to raise money, but we also try to do smaller fundraising events each year. We even a photo of Danny and Imogen in the office entrance and a charity box to encourage people to donate whenever they can.

“We raised £2157.71 last year and we’re really proud. We want to raise the momentum this year and increase the amount.

“As we’re a lighting company, we’ll be lighting up the building to mark Wear Red Day - as well as wearing red of course - and we’ll be holding events throughout the year. We’ll also be reminding and encouraging everyone to donate."

Three-year-old Imogen will now be monitored throughout her childhood but according to dad Danny is a classic "troublesome" toddler.

Danny said: "She’s doing really well. She is monitored and will be throughout her childhood but everything seems to be working well.

“All in all, she's just a bright, bubbly and troublesome normal little girl.”

How to get involved with Wear Red Day

Anyone can get involved with Wear Red Day.

To get your local school, place of work or community group involved please sign up to CHSF’s annual Wear Red Day on Friday, February 7.

You can do this on the Children's Heart Surgery Fund website where you can also download a free fundraising pack.

If you are unable to take part in Wear Red Day but still would like to support please visit the website to make an online donation.

Alternatively, cheques can also be made payable to Children’s Heart Surgery Fund at 3 Oxford Place, Leeds, LS1 3AX. Thank you!

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