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Battle to save child heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary
PARENTS of a boy who had emergency heart surgery when he was days old are fighting plans to close the unit that saved him.
Cameron Scott, now four, was born at York Hospital with his aortic valve fused shut, and needed keyhole surgery to save his life.
He was rushed to Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) for the vital op – but its child heart surgery unit is now facing closure.
Cameron’s parents, Allan and Jacqui, of Allington Drive, in Heworth, said that without the care of LGI, their son – a Child of The Year in the 2009 York Community Pride Awards – might not have survived, and they say they are devastated it could close.
They spoke out as parents across York were urged to back a campaign against the closure, which could leave sick children having to travel to Newcastle or Liverpool instead of Leeds.
A Save Our Surgery (SOS) meeting will be held in York on March 22, as part of a campaign to get tens of thousands of UK parents to petition Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.
Sharon Cheng, director of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF), said: “If enough people start shouting, the Government will have to listen.
“The unit serves more than 5.5 million people across the region, and it is unthinkable we could lose such a vital part of our health service provision.”
The unit at the LGI is one of 11 under threat across England after a review by health chiefs, who said only six or seven were needed.
Reports claim it ranks tenth out of the 11, above John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, which has already stopped heart surgery on children.
Jacqui Scott said: “We are very concerned at the possibility of the unit at Leeds closing. When Cameron was born he collapsed and was rushed to the Special Care Baby Unit at York, where he was then transferred by blue light to Leeds.
“If Leeds had not been there, and he had been transferred to Newcastle as is now being proposed, I don’t believe he would have survived. Cameron’s heart condition was not picked up until after he was born and he became critically ill.”
Cameron had open heart surgery last October, with more to follow.
Jacqui said: “He has gone from strength to strength but he will need a few more operations yet. I don’t know what we, and many other parents, would do without LGI.”
The petition can be found at thepetitionsite.com/6/help-to-save-ward-10-childrens-cardiac-lgi The venue for the March 22 meeting has yet to be announced.
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