A TEENAGER from York who had life-saving heart surgery as a baby is helping launch a huge fundraising race.

Scarlet Hearson, 16, who lives in South Bank in York with mum Vicky and older sister Lara, 18, was born with a series of serious heart conditions which went undiagnosed until she was nearly two.

As The Press reported at the time, it was only when her parents took her to the doctor with what they thought at the time was teething problems that they realised there was something far more serious wrong with her.

Scarlet was booked straight in for surgery which took place less than a week later.

Now fighting fit, she is helping launch York’s annual Chase the Pud event which pits runners against a giant Christmas pudding to help raise money for the British Heart Foundation.

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York Press: Scarlet Hearson today Scarlet Hearson today (Image: Vicky Hearson and BHF)

Taking place on December 10 at York Racecourse, participants have been urged to sign up as soon as possible to make sure they get a spot in the race.

The race relies on a network of local volunteers and Scarlet is one of the youngest to sign up.

“In terms of issues with my heart, I was born with three problems – a hole in my heart, which is pretty common in terms of heart conditions; a thick membrane that made it as though I had an extra chamber in my heart; and I also had a really leaky valve,” said Scarlet.

“They didn’t know about any of this when I was born but when I was around two-years-old my parents took me to the doctor with really red cheeks.

“They thought it was teething but what they didn’t know at the time is that red cheeks can be a symptom of heart failure.”

York Press: Scarlet Hearson as a toddlerScarlet Hearson as a toddler (Image: Vicky Hearson and BHF)

Scarlet’s parents were told to take her to the hospital immediately because terrifyingly when the doctor listened to her heart they could only hear a “fluttering sound”, rather than the usual beat.

“So they drove straight to Leeds hospital and I had surgery about five days later,” added Scarlet. Vicky, who was married to Scarlet’s dad Chris at the time of the operation, said her daughter’s six-hour surgery had all felt a bit “surreal”.

“We went out for a walk and did a bit of shopping and tried to keep busy while constantly waiting for the phone to ring,” she said.

York Press: Scarlet in hospitalScarlet in hospital (Image: Vicky Hearson and BHF)

“In the end the surgery took slightly less time than expected so when we got the call and they wouldn’t tell us anything on the phone, we sprinted back to intensive care.

“Luckily the surgery had gone really well – she was kept in intensive care for a few days but we got her home 16 days later and straight away she was wrestling on the floor with her sister.”

Scarlet has recovered well from her operation and apart from regular check-ups lives a normal, healthy teenage life – she has just started studying for her A-levels at York College, and takes part in sports like swimming, horse riding and going to the gym. And now one thing she is very keen to do is get involved in the Chase the Pud fundraising event.

York Press: Scarlet and Vicky HearsonScarlet and Vicky Hearson (Image: Vicky Hearson and BHF)

Every year, participants dressed as Santa chase another runner dressed as a giant Christmas pudding around York Racecourse. If anyone manages to catch the pud, they take on this role themselves the following year.

York Press: Chase the Pud takes place at York RacecourseChase the Pud takes place at York Racecourse (Image: Leanne Allsop and BHF)

The event includes a “fun” 3km event but for the first time this year the organisers are broadening the appeal of the race by introducing a 10km run. Scarlet said while she had helped out at the event in the past, this was the first year she would be an official volunteer.

“I’m really looking forward to helping out on the day and doing my bit to help raise funds for the British Heart Foundation,” she said.

“I don’t know if I would be here today if it wasn’t for the research the charity funds so I would urge everyone to join us on December 10 and help raise as much money as possible for a brilliant cause.”

York Press: People dress up as Santa for the eventPeople dress up as Santa for the event (Image: Leanne Allsopp and BHF)

To find out more about Chase the Pud and sign up to take part go to https://racebest.com/races/gf7c2