Loss of heart unit ‘devastating’

Two-year-old Kian Hawkins with his mum Sharron, Streethouse
Two-year-old Kian Hawkins with his mum Sharron, Streethouse

A STREETHOUSE mum fears thousands of lives could be devastated if the heart unit that saved her son is closed.

Sharron Hawkins, 33, is backing the Save Our Surgery petition fighting to keep the under-threat children’s heart unit at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) open.

Staff on the ward saved the life of her toddler, Kian – who had to undergo major heart surgery at just one week old – but under a national reorganisation of services, patients could be forced to travel 100 miles to Newcastle for treatment.

Mrs Hawkins, of Meadway, said: “We’re going to lose an exceptional, amazing unit of unbelievable staff who have saved thousands and thousands of lives. It would be absolutely devastating to lose that unit.

“If it closes, life will be lost. If this was the case when Kian was first diagnosed, he wouldn’t have made it to Newcastle.

“I have been through it and I know what families have to go through and it would have a devastating effect, not just on the babies involved but for the families too. It’s impossible to cope if you’re hundred of miles away from your family.

Kian, two, was diagnosed with atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD) at only two days old, a condition where the middle of his heart is missing.

His worried mum took him to Pontefract General Infirmary (PGI) when she realised he looked ill, and he was rushed to LGI for lifesaving surgery.

Mrs Hawkins said: “He had his first surgery at a week old, without it he couldn’t have lived. That surgery saved his life.

“If he’d had to go to Newcastle he wouldn’t have made it. The condition happens very quickly, it can’t be detected.

“We had five minutes to get him to PGI, one minute he was fine and the next minute his whole body shut down. It was an absolute nightmare, a doctor said another five minutes and he wouldn’t have made it.”

Kian visits doctors at LGI every four months and will need surgery on his heart valves every ten years.

His mother fears for his future if the heart unit in Leeds closes.

She said: “We can’t make it to Newcastle, there’s not a chance, we don’t drive and we have got other children.

“Kian will be a heart patient for the rest of his life, he needs further surgery. His health will suffer if he can’t go to Leeds.

“He’s terrified of going to hospital as it is, but he knows the doctors and nurses there, it’s familiar to him.

“We trust these surgeons. They saved my baby’s life, I don’t want to hand him to someone else. You build up a relationship with them and I don’t want his life in someone else’s hands.”

Go to www.chsf.org.uk to sign the petition online. The deadline for signatures is July 1.