Family of brave Sunderland girl take on new charity challenge

A Sunderland family are set to tackle a new charity challenge to raise cash for specialist heart unit which saved their baby daughter's life.

Thursday, 2nd June 2016, 1:11 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd June 2016, 2:18 pm
Luna Petrucci during her time in hospital

Luna Petrucci was born with two holes in her heart and needed lifesaving surgery.

Just days before her second birthday, Luna was forced to have a six-and-a-half hour operation at the children's heart unit at the Freeman Hospital.

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

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Luna's dad Sergio, 40, described her condition as a “ticking time bomb” after they were told that she would not survive without having the immediate surgery.

Luna spent a week in intensive care while parents Sergio and Emma, from Ashbrooke, spent that time staying in Scott House, a residential area for parents of children being treated at the unit which is funded by The Children's Heart Unit Fund (CHUF), a North East based charity that helps babies and small children from all over the UK who are born with or develop life threatening heart conditions and spend time in the unit at the Freeman.

Now fighting fit after her surgery, Luna's family have supported CHUF through various fundraising events including a golfing day and a Red Sky Ball charity event which raised £47,000.

And they have signed up to take part in the new Great North 10k Family Mile on Sunday, July 3. The event is one of a series of Great North 10k Family Events, of which CHUF has been nominated as the chosen charity.

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

Sergio said: "When Luna was born, we went from the euphoria of having our baby girl with us to devastation when we realized that she was so poorly.

"Luna is now doing great, she is like any other three year old. I have the team at the Children’s Heart Unit to thank for that and we decided to throw ourselves into fundraising for them.

"I could not help but hug the surgeon after Luna’s operation. We decided we really want to do support the charity in any way we can to help families like us in the future.

"The Children’s Heart Unit is one of only two units in the country that carry out heart surgery of this complexity.

"The teams that look after children and support families like us are amazing."

The Petrucci family are planning another Red Sky Ball to help CHUF on March 3, 2017. To help support the event, visit

CHUF CEO, Chris Gray, said: “The Great Run series have become such a part of the fabric of North East life for so many, so we think the Great North 10k Family Events are a wonderful addition.

"The Petrucci family have been through a lot and have been such incredible supporters for CHUF so we know that their involvement in the Great North 10k Family Mile will mean so much to them to create lasting memories as a family."

The Great North 10k Family Mile and Toddler Dash will both be staged at Gateshead International Stadium on Sunday, July 3. Visit for entry details.