Parents of Sunderland girl who underwent life-saving heart surgery in latest fund-raiser forhospital unit

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

A charity event set up by two Wearside parents whose daughter was given life-saving surgery is set to hit all the white notes.

Sunderland couple Sergio and Emma Petrucci will host another Red Sky Ball White Party brunch at Ramside Hall on Sunday to raise thousands more for Children’s Heart Unit (CHUF) at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

Staff at the unit helped to save daughter Luna’s life after she was born with two holes in her heart.

Sergio and Emma - who founded Red Sky Ball in 2016, have organised the brunch as an alternative to the charity event they usually host in March which celebrates the anniversary of Luna’s life saving operation. #

The funds raised go direct to fund lifesaving equipment for young children with heart problems to make treatment easier.

The total funds raised in just over two years is now close to £230,000 – and Red Sky Ball continues to attract support from a number of commercial partners from region and beyond, including Emirates, Specsavers, Ashford Orthodontics, AR Controls, Mercedes and many more with over 400 guests attending each event.

Sergio, who also has a son, Enzo, said: “I’m really looking forward to this weekend to show off the machine we bought from last year’s efforts – when we raised enough money to buy a state of the art machine.

“A machine which now keeps transplant organs viable for 24 hours giving patients a better chance of survival.

“Prior to us helping CHUF to buy it, organs would be packed in ice and driven up to the Freeman within a four-hour window before they would degenerate.

“I was bursting with pride to see the OCS (Organ Care System) machine in action when the BBC aired a documentary called Heart Matters: “A Chance To Live”, featuring the brilliant team at the Freeman Hospital.

“At the end of the day, this is just us, trying to do something to give back to a team that has done something so amazing for our family – but now it’s about how many more families we can help.”

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

Over 300 children each year are cared for at the heart unit, 20 will receive heart transplants and over 7,000 will return for outpatient visits.  

About 10% of the youngsters under treatment are from the Wearside area.  

“It’s absolutely incredible to see so many people turn up to support us, and donate their hard-earned cash,” added Sergio.

“Ultimately, supporting CHUF to buy these machines means that many more lives can be saved with the help of all of those who make our Red Sky Ball efforts a success,” added Sergio. 

Chris Gray, CEO at CHUF, said: “We continue to be astounded by the incredible passion shown by the Petrucci family in their quest to raise funds to support many more families whose children require cardiac care.”

John Adamson, owner of Ramside Hall Hotel, said: “It’s an honour to be asked to host another Red Sky Ball White Party and to be able to help raise money for such a worthy cause.”