Family of sick youngster buy heart scanner for Sunderland hospital

Luna Petrucci and six-year-old brother Enzo with parents Emma and Sergio, back centre, and CHUF staff.

Luna Petrucci and six-year-old brother Enzo with parents Emma and Sergio, back centre, and CHUF staff.

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A fundraising drive on behalf of a Sunderland youngster has bought a heart scanner for the city's hospital.

Wearside children can now benefit from the state-of- the-art heart scanner thanks to the fundraising efforts of one Sunderland family.

Luna Petrucci with her namesake Luna the Snowdog.

Luna Petrucci with her namesake Luna the Snowdog.

Sergio and Emma Petrucci raised a staggering £47,000 in one evening at the Red Sky Ball for the Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF) at the Freeman Hospital.

The money has recently been used to purchase a much needed echocardiogram machine for the children’s cardiology department at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

The new machine will mean young patients being able to stay closer to home, with their heart scan results sent in seconds to the specialists at the Freeman for analysis – making treatment a bit easier for families across Wearside.

The couple’s daughter Luna, now three, received lifesaving surgery at the Freeman Hospital in 2015 to correct two congenital defects in her tiny heart.

After witnessing the heroic efforts of the team at CHUF they launched their fundraising drive to show their appreciation for saving Luna’s life.

Emma, said: “We’re so lucky to have what is a world-renowned unit right on our doorstep and, after they saved Luna's life, we were desperate to show our gratitude and raise some funds so that other children and their families in similar situations could receive the same outstanding care and attention that we did."

Following last year’s efforts, Sergio and Emma are looking forward to Red Sky Ball 2017 at the Stadium of Light on Friday, March 10, and the couple hope for another fundraising extravaganza after seeing the event sell out in less than 72 hours.

Sergio said: "We've been completely overwhelmed by so many people supporting our efforts, that support has enabled us to continue in our efforts to make a huge difference in helping other children and their families at the unit.

"To know the money we handed over has bought a new machine for the city’s Sunderland Royal Hospital is even more special.”

In autumn 2016 CHUF was able to secure a Snowdog as part of the popular North East Trail.

Luna the Snowdog was inspired by her namesake and the deep red sky which appeared on the morning of Luna’s heart operation. It is now a permanent resident in the outdoor play area at the Freeman.

Chris Gray, chief executive officer for CHUF, said: “We cannot thank everyone enough from across the region, and mostly right here in Wearside, for their support of Red Sky Ball.

"Not only have we raised additional funds from last year's event, but CHUF’s profile has been significantly raised during the last year thanks to Sergio and Emma Petrucci’s efforts."

To find out more visit www.redskyball.com or www.chuf.org.uk.