Dad of Sunderland girl whose life was saved by heart unit calls NHS staff ‘angels’

Luna Petrucci and brother Enzo with parents Emma and Sergio, back centre, and CHUF staff.
Luna Petrucci and brother Enzo with parents Emma and Sergio, back centre, and CHUF staff.
Have your say

The devoted dad of a Sunderland girl whose life was saved by the work of the NHS says he and his family will forever be indebted to the organisation.

Luna Petrucci was only days short of her second birthday in 2015 when she had to undergo life-saving treatment on two holes in her heart at the Children’s Heart Unit (CHUF), at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.

Sergio, Emma, Luna and Enzo Petrucci

Sergio, Emma, Luna and Enzo Petrucci

Thankfully, the procedure was a success and Luna, now five, is living a life as normal as any other child.

Her parents Sergio and Emma have since raised well over £200,000 for CHUF in recognition of the work they did to save Luna.

Sergio today backed our NHS70 campaign, which is shining a light on people whose lives have been saved thanks to the work of medics.

“When Luna was first ill we were in a total dark tunnel at the time about what the CHUF team did before they explained,” said Sergio, of Ashbrooke, who is also dad to Enzo.

“We kind of took to the work of the NHS for granted and then you are putting your trust in these experts’ hands to save your child’s life.

“What they do is day-to-day routine, but it is amazing to people like us.

“It goes beyond just the operations as well and includes the aftercare that they provide.”

Through their annual Red Sky Ball and White Party fund-raisers, the family have helped generate almost £230,000 for the NHS.

“We’ve been able to buy machines that cost between £50,000 and £60,000 and some which cost as little as £2,500,” added Sergio.

“The NHS needs to have all kinds of machines available 24 hours a day, not just 9am to 5pm in certain places as some of them have been.”

Sergio added: “The fact that we have raised close to £230,000 since 2016 is phenomenal but I couldn’t have done it without the help of people across Sunderland.

“Luna is champion and like any other five-year-old and that’s down to the great work of the NHS.

“The people who work for the service are angels in my opinion.”

CHUF is one of only two units in the UK supporting babies and children who require heart transplants.

More than 300 children each year are cared for at the unit, of whom 20 will receive heart transplants and more than 7,000 will return for outpatient visits.

Ten per cent of the youngsters being treated are from Wearside.

* On July 5, the National Health Service will celebrate 70 years of pioneering medical advances and world class treatments - raising a toast to its dedicated employees and supporters.

But what is the one thing you would like to say about your local NHS? We want to hear your stories.

NHS England deals with over one million patients every 36 hours so the chances are you or a loved one will have been at the receiving end of the life-saving or life-changing treatment at some point or another and will have the stories to tell. Were you given top care during a routine hip replacement? Has speech and language therapy helped your little one? Or have you embarked on a fundraising drive to say thank you to the NHS?

We want to hear your stories of why you love the NHS. Share your local stories by writing to