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Parents add voice to fight over heart unit decision
The parents of a little boy who needed 13 hours of open heart surgery at eight days old are backing a campaign fighting to prevent the closure of the heart unit which saved his life.
Proposals to end children’s heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary have been legally challenged by Save Our Surgery (SOS). The campaign group sought a judicial review of the decision to close the children’s heart surgery unit in the High Court. The case will be heard in February.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt also ordered a full review of the decision to close the unit by the Independent Review Panel. The Panel is due to report at the end of February.
Campaigners have concerns about how the decision was reached and the impact it will have on patients and their families.
Edward Atkinson’s mum and dad Emma and John, of Bank View, Birkenshaw, found out at his 20-week scan that he had a hole in his heart.
When he was born they found out he also had a coarctation of the aorta – a narrowing of the aorta – which had not been detected on the scan.
Within two days of his birth he was in the children’s heart surgery unit in Leeds where his condition deteriorated rapidly. Save Our Surgery campaigner and congenital heart surgeon Kevin Watterson performed the life-saving operation on 22-month-old Edward.
“The surgeons are just incredible,” said Mrs Atkinson.
“He said ‘it’s like this – if he does not have surgery he has nought per cent chance of survival’. It was chat over at that point.”
Edward faces further surgery and his parents say they can’t imagine having to travel to Newcastle – the nearest unit if Leeds closes.
“Imogen was less than two when Edward was in hospital and she needed her mummy as well and because the unit was 15 minutes down the road I was able to come home at night,” said Mrs Atkinson.
“I wouldn’t be able to do that if it was in Newcastle.
“Children could die travelling to Newcastle. The decision is preposterous when you look at the population of Yorkshire, which is far larger than the North East.”