Sunderland family set to raise £20,000 for heart unit which saved daughter's life

Sergio, Emma, Luna and Enzo Petrucci
Sergio, Emma, Luna and Enzo Petrucci
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A Wearside couple are hoping to raise over £20,000 for the heart unit which saved their daughter's life.

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

The operation, which took place in March last year, was a complete success but the memory of the ordeal has stayed with parents Emma and Sergio, who remain in awe of the surgeons and support staff who worked tirelessly to save their little girl.

Now the family have decided to go one step further than just saying thanks by organising a charity ball to raise much needed funds for the unit.

Emma said: “The Children’s Heart Unit at The Freeman Hospital is one of only two units in the country that can carry out paediatric heart surgery of this complexity.

“The teams who look after and support children in a similar situation to Luna are awe-inspiring. They work tirelessly to not only provide for them medically but also to provide a happy and child-focused environment for these little patients.”

“We really wanted to do something that would help families like us in the future.”

‘The Red Sky Ball,’ which will be held at The Stadium of Light on Friday 26th February, will see performances from stars Lisa Maffia and Romeo of So Solid Crew, alongside musical, comedy and fund-raising entertainment.

The event sold out within four weeks, with almost £15,000 having already been raised through ticket sales and sponsorship.

Dad Sergio, who is an account director at radio station Sun FM said: “It’s the hardest thing we have ever had to do as parents; putting our baby’s life in the hands of strangers.

“When the surgeon, Bari Matuza came out of surgery and broke the news that the operation had been a success, he offered me a handshake but I just grabbed him and hugged him.

"To me they weren’t normal hands – they were superhero’s hands!

“On the morning of Luna’s operation the sky was a mass of tempestuous red, so when it came to naming the event that came as a natural choice.

“We are absolutely overwhelmed with how people have reacted and the support we’ve received from both local and national companies in terms of the prizes and donations they have given, in particular main sponsors Specsavers, Barclays, HLA Services, Collinson Jewellers and Maddi Alexander .”

Chris Gray, fund-raising manager for Chuf said, “We are so delighted and excited by what Sergio and his family have achieved in this short space of time already.

“To have sold out this event and raised so much money already is a massive achievement and it will make a huge difference to the unit and its patients.”