Lives could be lost in heart unit overhaul

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A mum who owes her baby’s life to a specialist heart unit has slammed a decision to close the centre.

At just hours old, Kersha Rutter’s tiny baby Rio was rushed to Leeds’ Children’s Heart Surgery Unit, where expert cardiologists diagnosed a rare congenital heart defect.

He was taken to London HOSPITAL for a gruelling operation, which despite having just a one-in-ten survival rate, saved Rio’s life.

“I am sure that if he hadn’t had the diagnosis at Leeds, he wouldn’t have made it” said first-time mum Kersha, 18, of Stonegravels. “They kept him stabilised and arranged for him to get to London, which is one of only two hospitals that offer the operation he needed.”

But like thousands of other parents across the region, Kersha is joining a fight to save the centre, after the NHS revealed it was stopping operations on children at Leeds General Infirmary.

The heart service shake-up – which will see the closure of three specialist units across the UK to create fewer, larger centres – means Derbyshire parents will most likely face travelling to Birmingham.

Kersha added: “If we can’t get a turnaround on the decision it will be devastating. It could be the difference between life and death.”

Sharon Cheng, director of the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, which was set up to protect the Leeds unit, said: “We feel they should move the doctors to the people, not the other way round.

There are 14.2 million people within a two hour drive and we just feel it is ridiculous to think of taking it away.”

Kersha will join hundreds of other parents at a peaceful demonstration starting in Leeds’ Millenium Square from 12pm on Monday. For more on this story, keep checking www.derbyshiretimes.co.uk