LEEDS United manager Simon Grayson and his players have thrown their weight behind the fight to save a children’s heart surgery unit.
Grayson has signed a petition supporting the SOS Save Our Surgery campaign, launched amid fears for the future of the unit at Leeds General Infirmary.
It could close as part of a national review of children’s heart surgery provision, a step that would force many sick Yorkshire kids to travel to Newcastle for treatment.
The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) – the charity which backs the LGI unit – hopes the strength of feeling highlighted by the petition will persuade the Government to change its plans.
United stars Jonny Howson and Davide Somma joined their manager in signing up to the cause when campaigners paid a visit to the club’s Thorp Arch training complex.
Grayson said: “The children’s heart surgery unit is very, very important to this city, and I think it’s important that everyone supports the SOS campaign and makes their voices heard.
“I’ve met some of the youngsters who have benefited from the unit and you cannot stress the importance of having somewhere like this in the region so children don’t have to travel miles for heart treatment.”
United’s gesture was welcomed today by CHSF director Sharon Cheng, who said: “We are delighted that sporting heroes from Leeds United are supporting the campaign.
“We are relying on ‘people power’ from across Yorkshire to get our message across that the unit simply cannot be allowed to close.”
The SOS petition has attracted more than 28,000 signatures in just under six weeks.
Doctors have warned that children will die if the heart unit at LGI is axed. The team behind the reorganisation, however, says this claim is “misleading” and insists that having fewer, larger centres would provide safer care for children suffering with heart problems.
For more details, visit the www.chsf.org.uk website.