Sunderland heart-op children celebrate as unit is saved

22 month old, Ruby Wright is making good progress after an operation to repair a hole in her heart before Christmas.
22 month old, Ruby Wright is making good progress after an operation to repair a hole in her heart before Christmas.
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DELIGHTED families of heart-op children across Wearside are celebrating after the Children’s Heart Unit, in Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, was saved from closure.

In recent years, however, the threat of closure has loomed over the unit after health chiefs became worried that expertise in child heart operations was too thinly spread across UK hospitals.

An NHS review into the streamlining of children’s heart surgery yesterday concluded that heart operations should continue at the Freeman.

The decision was today met with delight by the family of patient Ruby Wright.

Two-year-old Ruby’s mum Laura Robinson, 29, and dad Daniel Wright, 30, feared they would have to take their daughter hundreds of miles for treatment if the Freeman closed.

Laura, of Somerset Road, Springwell, Sunderland said today: “It’s brilliant news and we’re so pleased.

“If it had to close it would mean much longer journeys each time Ruby needed treatment.

“It would’ve meant new staff working with Ruby, which would be hard when she has got to know all the doctors and nurses at the Freeman.”

Ruby, who attends Little Angels Nursery, in Grindon, was born with a ventricular septal defect, meaning she had a hole in the muscular partition in between the two chambers which pump blood to her heart.

She had a life-saving procedure to repair the hole in her heart so that she can lead a normal life.

Doctors fitted a pulmonary artery band when she was just four weeks old.

Last year, she was admitted to the Freeman to repair the hole.

Ruby still needs check-up appointments every few months at the Freeman. Although hampered by chest infections, her condition is steadily improving.

“She has to go to the RVI for treatment now because her bronchial tubes have been squashed by her heart,” added Laura. “But apart from that, she is doing fine.”