Sunderland family's £230,000 fundraising campaign pays for lifesaving hospital machine

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A lifesaving machine has been donated to a North East hospital thanks to a £230,000 fundraising effort by a Sunderland family.

Sergio and Emma Petrucci, from Ashbrooke, raised the staggering total to purchase a Organ Care System (OCS) machine for the Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF) at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital.

The Petrucci family.

The Petrucci family.

The couple launched a drive to raise the funds back in 2016 after their daughter Luna, now five, 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.

In that time the family have held four Red Sky Balls, and a one-off afternoon tea event to raise funds.

As well as the OCS machine, the cash has also bought two heart scanning machines for both Sunderland Royal Hospital and James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

Sergio, 42, who is also dad to son Enzo, eight, said: "It is lovely to have been able to raise £230,000 for the machines.

"The funds have been raised from the Red Sky Balls and the afternoon tea at the Empire.

"It is through the help of our sponsors such as Specsavers and Barclay's and the people who have supported the events by attending them.

"It is amazing as we didn't expect it to be this big.

"We have had around 400 people at each ball since 2016.

"It is great that the funds have been able to buy proper bits of kit that can be used."

The OCS machine increases the amount of time that an organ can be maintained outside the body in a condition suitable for transplantation.

This means that organs can be transported from greater distances without the risk of them degenerating.

While the echocardiogram machines mean that young patients are 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 new machine at the Freeman was featured in a BBC Two programme this week called Heat Transplant A Chance To Live.

It followed a group of seven patients at the hospital all in need of a new heart.

Sergio added:"We just wanted to thank them for what they have done for our little girl.

"But as we go on we want to move away from Luna's story and have it be about other children and how we can save their lives."