Heart warriors share their scars for Children's Heart Surgery Fund's #scarselfie day
Heart warriors who have undergone high-risk surgeries at the city's congenital heart unit have been bravely sharing their scars for a Leeds charity's annual #scarselfie day.
Each year, the Children's Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) celebrates #scarselfie day - an online event encouraging former patients to showcase their scars "with pride".
Coinciding with National Selfie Day today, #scarselfie day aims to raise awareness of the bravery of those who have undergone heart surgery as well as helping to raise vital funds for the charity, which supports the congenital heart unit at Leeds Children's Hospital.
Among those showcasing their scars was Ethan Blackburn, nine, of Castleford, who had to have three open heart surgeries at the unit during the first five years of his life after being born with a condition called pulmonary valve stenosis.
This morning (Monday June 21), he proudly posed with his scar as well as the medals he, and every other child, is awarded by CHSF after undergoing heart surgery.
His dad Marc, 36, said: "It's spreading awareness of how your scar is something to be proud of rather than something to be ashamed of.
"Behind every scar is a story.
"I'm so proud of him. I'm proud of how he just takes it all on the chin.
"Now that he's getting older, he's gaining more understanding and asks questions.
"It [his scar] is who he is. He's quite proud of it. He did notice it more when he first started doing PE at school and that he had one and no-one else did, but now he is really proud of it and all his mates know what it's about."
Marc said it's important for the family to support CHSF's campaigns, given the invaluable help the charity provided back when Ethan was younger, including providing the accommodation they stayed in while he was an inpatient.
He said: "We're in quite a good place now but other families will have just started out or have kids who need more frequent support.
"We have been there, we have been in their accommodation and it's just nice to give back and try to spread awareness and try to get some cash to make life easier."
CHSF Marketing Manager Andy McNally said: “We fully understand that showing a scar picture is a very personal decision, and not for everyone.
"However we have run this campaign in previous years and know the positive message it can bring.
"This campaign is one way of celebrating the incredible stories of heart warriors like Ethan. You can support our wonderful charity and community at chsf.org.uk/donate.”
For more information on the #scarselfie day visit the charity's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/childrensheartsurgeryfund
*YEP's Have a Heart campaign
The CHSF has supported the congenital heart unit for over 30 years, since its formation in 1988.
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.
CHSF helps fund vital equipment for the unit as well as supporting patients and their families.
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.
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