New life-saving piece of kit at Leeds hospital for babies with heart defects

Babies being treated for congential heart disease at Leeds Children's Hospital will soon have access to a new life-saving piece of kit - the first of its kind in Europe - thanks to a generous charity donation.

By Joanna Wardill
Saturday, 19th September 2020, 6:00 am

The Morrisons Foundation has donated £25,000 to the Children's Heart Surgery Fund to buy an MRI coil for the congenital heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

The coil fits around a baby's chest to take high-quality images of complex heart defects during MRI scans without the need for a general anaesthetic - which can cause cardiac arrest in such high-risk babies.

While currently being used for research purposes with outpatients, the coil will ultimately be used for inpatient babies in a soundproofed, temperature-regulated 'closed incubator' which will allow them to have MRI scans while asleep, cutting out the noise from the MRI scanner itself.

Dr Malenka Bissell pictured with the new MRI Coil for the Congenital Heart Unit, at the Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds. Picture by Simon Hulme

While coils and closed incubators are used widely for MRI brain scans, the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit will be the first in Europe to use this set-up to take images of babies' hearts.

Dr Malenka Bissell, clinical lecturer in Paediatric Cardiology, said: "I would like to say a big thank you to Morrisons Foundation for this MRI coil.

"It will enable me and my colleagues to continue to perform MRI scans for newborn babies with congenital heart disease, who will still need life-saving surgery during the current health crisis."

She added: "This generous support will make a big difference to the treatment and outcome for babies categorised as high-risk, and help to make Leeds an outstanding centre of excellence for treatment and research into paediatric congenital heart disease."

Dr Malenka Bissell pictured with the new MRI Coil for the Congenital Heart Unit, at the Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds. Picture by Simon Hulme

Each year, it is thought that the MRI coil will be able to treat around 100 babies aged six months or under with complex heart defects in high-risk clinics at the unit and 50 babies in the neonatal intensive care unit, for at least the next 10 years.

And the images from the MRI scans are also expected to benefit thousands more babies with congenital heart disease through pioneering research studies.

Sharon Milner, CEO of the Children's Heart Surgery Fund, thanked the Morrisons Foundation for their "generous" grant and added: "This coil will help to improve and save the lives of thousands of babies with complex heart defects treated in the Leeds Congenital Unit at Leeds Children's Hospital."

David Scott, Morrisons Foundation trustee said: "I'm delighted we were able to provide this vital support for the Children's Heart Surgery Fund. The work they do makes such a huge difference to the lives of children and their families."

Earlier this year, the Yorkshire Evening Post launched a Have a Heart campaign to help the Children's Heart Surgery Fund in Leeds reach its target of £1m donations this year.

The Morrisons Foundation was set up by the Bradford-based supermarket chain in 2015 and awards grants to charity projects which help improve people's lives.

*YEP's Have a Heart campaign

The Yorkshire Evening Post launched a Have a Heart campaign earlier this year, to help the Children's Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) reach its £1m target for donations in 2020.

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, CHSF has been forced to issue an urgent plea for donations after losing a "significant portion" of its yearly income - thought to be around £300,000 over the next few months.

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Thank you

Laura Collins