Call to back kids’ Leeds heart surgery event

Sharon Cheng (left) Debbie Field with charity mascot Katie Bear. Picture Alan Scott.
Sharon Cheng (left) Debbie Field with charity mascot Katie Bear. Picture Alan Scott.
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families of young heart patients treated in Leeds are urging the public to support an annual fundraising day.

The second Wear Red Day, which takes place on February 7, raises money for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund.

The charity supports the Leeds General Infirmary children’s heart surgery unit, which has been at the centre of a campaign to secure its future after it was threatened as part of a national review.

A decision to move operations out of Leeds was scrapped last year and a new process is now underway to improve children’s heart surgery across the country.

Following the success of the first Wear Red Day, families and supporters of the unit are gearing up for the fundraising extravaganza.

Claire Noonan’s son James had lifesaving open heart surgery at LGI at four months of age.

Claire, from Cookridge, said: “James’s surgery was a really difficult time – we weren’t sure if he was going to make it. The heart unit saved our boy’s life and he is now a happy, thriving eight-month-old.

“Without the support of Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, the heart unit at the LGI would not be able to carry out all the vital day-to-day work and support it provides for the families of Leeds and the Yorkshire region.

“We want to do everything we can to give something back, and I urge everyone to get involved in this worthy cause.”

Claire, who runs a pre-school music group called Musical Minis, will be supporting the day by wearing red at the group in Seacroft on February 7.

All money raised through the event will go towards projects for patients at the LGI, with schools, nurseries and businesses across the region already signing up.

Sharon Cheng, director of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, said: “This year’s Wear Red Day is timed to fall during congenital heart defects (CHD) awareness week. Around 400 babies and children have open heart surgery at the LGI each year, and around 10,000 are treated in the unit’s outpatients clinics across Yorkshire, the Humber and North Lincolnshire.

“Despite roughly one in every 125 babies being born with a cardiac condition, and it being one of the biggest killers of babies, CHD is not widely known about.

“Wear Red Day is about spreading awareness in a fun way, and also about raising money for vital equipment, resources and other projects we fund at the LGI.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the response so far. We’re really excited that Wear Red Day is becoming a fixture in Yorkshire’s calendar.”

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