FOUR young heart patients have inspired their friends to form a team of fundraisers to help other families who face a similar ordeal.
Twenty-two children, aged three to 14, have joined forces to take on the Jane Tomlinson Mini /Junior Fun Run on Sunday August 3 to raise money for the Leeds Children's Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF).
Their story has already attracted almost £485 in sponsorship - they now hope to smash their £500 target - which will go to the CHSF charity which supports the heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary by funding equipment, staff posts, resources and training, and supports patients and their families.
Among Team CHSF are York school friends Cameron Scott, whose life was saved by emergency heart surgery when he was just days old, and William Flatt, whose baby brother Charlie is currently recovering from open heart surgery.
Charlie who turns one tomorrow underwent the three-and-a-half hour operation at nine months old at LGI.
Parents Jay Flatt and Zoe Buck, of Stray Road, Heworth, said the care provided by LGI staff was "exceptional".
"The operation was extremely successful and five days after surgery we were back home with a happy baby, and other than a neat wound from his sternotomy, looking the picture of health as though nothing had ever happened," said Jay, 42, a physics department technician at the University of York.
Zoe, 40, a receptionist at Clockhouse Dental Practice in Heworth, said: "We had an awful lot of support in the hospital and wanted to give something back and support other families who have to go through the same experience."
The couple have praised the Children's Heart Surgery Fund for the support it provides, which also includes providing accommodation for young patients and their families as well as travel and other grants in their time of need, and contribute to the refurbishment of facilities.
Joining Cameron and William, who are both seven, will be Freya Popplewell, eight, from Huntington, York, who is awaiting corrective surgery after being born with a defect which means she has two holes in her heart and an enlarged ventricle.
Joel Bearder, seven, who also underwent vital heart surgery at two days old followed by a double-valve switch at the age of five, will be travelling from his Huddersfield home with his brother Lucas, 11, to join their friend Cameron and the rest of Team CHSF.
Cameron, Charlie, Joel and Freya are all under the care of Leeds Children's Heart Unit.
Other team members include siblings and friends of the four.
Cameron's parents Allan, 37, and Jacqui, 34, of Allington Drive, Heworth, co-ordinated the team effort and said they were overwhelmed by the support received.
"This is a charity very close to our hearts," said Jacqui. "It's great to have got more than 20 kids who want to do it so hopefully we will raise some money."
The Scott family's links with CHSF are still strong as Cameron, who was a Child of The Year in the 2009 Press Community Pride Awards, faces further surgery to eventually be given an artificial valve.
He was born at York Hospital with his aortic valve fused shut and needed keyhole surgery to save his life. He was rushed to LGI for emergency heart surgery when he was four days old and had open heart surgery when he was three years old.
Other Team CHSF members include Lydia Scott, Nial, Lilymay and Kiera Popplewell, Jackson Clark, Ryan Thompson, Sam and Lucy Holmes, Joel's brother Lucas Bearder, Kirsty and Amy Doughty, William Dobson, Josh and Tyler Fresson, Dylan and Phoebe Rankin, and Miles and Oscar Duncan.
To sponsor Team CHSF visit www.justgiving.com/Jacqui-Scott/
• The Children's Heart Surgery Fund charity, founded in 1988, supports children and adults born with Congenital Heart Defects and their families. It provides equipment, resources and research, as well as a support service for the children and families along the way.
Based at Leeds General Infirmary, it covers Yorkshire, Humberside and North Lincolnshire regions where about 400 children annually need open heart surgery.
• Thousands of runners are expected at the Asda Foundation York 10K in the Arena Group York Mini & Junior Runs across the Knavesmire and York Racecourse.
The young runners will use the same start and finish line as the 10K race and start from around 11.45am - once 10K runners have crossed the finish line.
Every child who crosses the line receives a goody bag and finisher's medal.
A parent or guardian should register on behalf of the child at www.runforall.com/junior/york/
PROTECTIVE: William Flatt, aged seven, with his brother, Charlie, who has had open-heart surgery and who celebrates his first birthday tomorrow. Picture: Allan Scott Photography.
CHARLIE Flatt was just six weeks old when a routine check-up detected a heart murmur, writes Nadia Jefferson-Brown.
It was another three months before his parents Zoe Buck and Jay Flatt learnt how serious his condition was and were told he would need open heart surgery before he turned one.
"It was the unknown that was so awful," said Zoe, aged 40.
Charlie who celebrates his first birthday tomorrow was diagnosed with a ventricle septle defect just before Christmas and referred to the Children's Heart Unit at Leeds General Infirmary where he underwent surgery when he was nine months old.
"He had a hole in his heart and the worst thing with Charlie's case was that it was in the worst position it could have been.
"Luckily we didn't have time to dwell on the operation," said Zoe who was given just five days notice of the operation date. "When you get the date that's when it really hits you. That's the worst bit; you know it's real.
"We were able to take him to theatre and Jay stayed with him while they put the gas mask on and while he went to sleep - I couldn't do that."
When their son came out from the operation which lasted three-and-a-half hours Zoe said she was unprepared for the number of tubes and wires attached to him.
"I was expecting some but I don't think the nurses quite prepare you enough for how many. He had them in his feet, groin, wires under his heart just in case he needed a pace maker, and he had them in his shoulders as well. When I saw him he was asleep and looked really calm. When they said I could give him a cuddle I didn't know how to hold him because of the wires."
Charlie stayed in intensive care for 20 hours and then moved to the high-dependency unit overnight before going to the cardiac children's ward where Zoe was able to become more involved in looking after him again.
"He was a bit sleepier than normal but back to his same routine and back to his usual self within a couple of days."
The family was back together at their Heworth home five days after the operation.
Charlie has just had a check up, and will have another in the coming months to monitor his recovery.
"He is absolutely fine," said Zoe. "We just have to keep an eye on him but we don't have to worry about it any more.
"His brother William is really protective and was really worried at the time of the operation but really pleased when everything was ok. He was over the moon when he came home."